M.Arch I, 2022 (or 2023 with a dual degree). Currently residing within sight of Rudolph Hall, in the “Blue Haus,” occupied by architecture students for as long as the current residents can trace its history.
Rudolph Hall is a place of much history and, as such, a place that can easily make one feel as if they are experiencing it behind velvet ropes. Usually teeming with life and bodies ready to take your place as soon as you leave your seat, as soon as you finish using equipment, as soon as you leave a bathroom stall, as soon as you finish with the microwave. There was a hustle that necessitated constant movement to the next destination, as stopping would create a pile-up that could ruin the rhythm of the building.
When Rudolph Hall opened this fall with COVID guidelines in place, I was one of the very few who ventured out to the studios. The immediate contrast between what I had known and the present stillness of the building was especially jarring; the feeling of those first weeks was of being left alone in someone else’s home. Carefully treading down empty halls, careful as to not make a sound, catching swinging doors with my foot and easing them closed.
But as the weeks flowed, it became my favorite place to work. In between computer sessions, I would look outside the window into another part of the building; or I would carefully study the iconic bush-hammered concrete in a way that I had never bothered to before. The chunks of shiny rocks in there, the seashells, places where the concrete was chiseled away to fit a light switch. I sometimes imagine a long sliver of myself fitting in between the grooves, engulfed by the cold. [As I write this, a dull ache remains in my elbow, from earlier this week when, carrying my daylighting model, I lost my footing and slammed into those grooves. It was excruciating.] I studied Corbu’s Modular Man engraved on the very public 4th-floor pit, and compared his dimensions to mine – far from ideal. Since the stairs are empty, one can walk them at a slow pace, noticing the art, fitting into the alcoves, and truly noticing the stairs; from the regular rhythmic ones in the stairwell, to the irregular ones in the penthouse to the wildly steep ones on the 7th-floor balcony. I was struck with the thought that this place that has produced great people and great ideas cannot be grasped and owned; one remains a visitor no matter how many hours a week one spends inside. But from the privilege that allows me access to Rudolph Hall when most people cannot be, I now find myself feeling a sense of ownership as I rediscover the tactile and sensory qualities that compose this place.