Preserving buildings preserves history

Demolishing campus facilities damages our campus’s character.
November 14, 2011

Tradition is an important part of the college experience — it creates an atmosphere of community and legacy. Aesthetics are part of this tradition. Students and alumni love the University of Minnesota for its beautiful architecture and collegiate atmosphere.
The physical campus buildings themselves help define the historical traditions that built our reputation. For example, our commitment to research and development is clearly exemplified in buildings like Science Teaching and Student Services and those in the Biomedical Discovery District.  
We may be losing some of our historical and traditional appeal with the loss of some of these facilities, as a recent Minnesota Daily article reported the long list of buildings on the master plan for demolition.
At such a large and distinguished research institution, our buildings should be modern and technologically advanced, but constant demolition and reconstruction hurts the aesthetic appeal of our campus.  
It’s important for universities to be adaptable and open to innovation, but doing away with historical buildings demolishes the bricks of history that built the University’s character.
It’s fact that many of our older buildings have become obsolete and with renovations being expensive, one can understand why razing out-of-date facilities must inevitably take place. With each demolition, however, a tangible aspect of our story as a university disappears.
Wesbrook Hall, originally built in 1898, was torn down in August. Though it suffered water damage and a mold problem, its former site was a central location on campus for more than 100 years. When a person is 100 years old, we ask them to share their advice and experiences with us, we don’t chastise them for not being able to master modern technology.
Buildings aren’t people and they don’t adapt, but there are certain elements of the University experience that lie within them. The destruction of iconic facilities endangers the aesthetic character of our campus.

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