Friday, November 20, 2009

Late Friday Afternoon in Midwood: Brooklyn College's new West Quad

We got to Brooklyn College early enough today to have some time before the creative writing workshop we teach starting in Boylan Hall for the wonderful Borough of Manhattan Community College, so for the first time we crossed over Bedford Avenue to take our first look at the new West Quad Building and the West Quadrangle, a fine addition to an already beautiful campus.

It was just before sunset, a nice time to see the West Quad Building, which opened earlier this fall. The 145,000-square-foot glass-fronted building houses a one-stop student services center and state-of-the-art phys education and recreational facilities.

Since it was after hours, the offices were closed but we were impressed with the clean design of the lobby/atrium. The building's architect is the great Rafael Viñoly, who designed many beautiful structures, including the Brooklyn Children's Musuem.

The pool looks great from above in the lobby.

We watched basketball practice, too.

On the south side of the West Quad is Roosevelt Hall, its openings still sealed off - we think, as they've been sealed off since the monstrous Plaza Building and Bedford Avenue overpass were built in our student days. In our day, this original 1937 campus building - like Boylan, Ingersoll and LaGuardia, designed by Randolph Evans in neo-Georgian style - was the Phys Ed building. There were separate Women's and Men's Health and Phsyical Education Departments back then; we took Health Ed for boys our first semester 40 years ago. Now Roosevelt Hall will be demolished and replaced by a scienceteaching/research facility appropriate to the 21st century. To us, it's a little sad but it's definitely progress.

On the north side of the West Quad, James Hall was built during our sophomore and junior years, along with the misbegotten Plaza Building. We taught an evening section of developmental writing in this building in the fall of 1980, just before we moved to Florida to teach at Broward Community College. The second-story entrance was closed off when the Plaza Building was demolished, we guess; it led to a forlorn plaza and the Bedford Avenue overpass which ended with steps leading to the main campus.

From the West Quad Building lobby, there's a great view of the old quadrangle - the east quad - with Boylan and Ingersoll Halls flanking the bell/clock tower of what we knew as LaGuardia Hall, now the Brooklyn College Library.

And as we walked back, the view got even nicer.

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