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Chicagophile
  > > e-Bulletin: 02/08/02


EDITOR'S NOTES
Big blocks on campus

This issue includes a photo essay on the newly opened Max Palevsky Residential Commons and the reincarnation of Bartlett Hall (Lifestyles of the Young and Studious). In its second life, the 1904 gymnasium has come back as a dining hall cum student center, and you'd be hard put to find someone, anyone, who isn't thrilled with the new Bartlett. On the other hand, you can't swing a cat around the quads without hitting someone who doesn't like the look of the Ricardo Legorreta-designed dormitories. Then again, you can't swing a second cat without also hitting someone who likes the new dormitories a lot (Letters). One of those second someones is me.

IMAGE:  Residential commons take windows to the maxI have friends, good friends, who don't like the dorms, but the aesthetic value of the Legoretta buildings has become one of those topics (along with politics, religion, and whether the family dog should sleep on one's bed or on the floor) on which we have tacitly agreed to disagree. And while acknowledging the validity of the opposing viewpoint, I know what I like.

Mine is an outsider's view, gleaned from walking by on the way to the Regenstein Library or the Smart Museum. As a passerby I like Max's colors, especially the bricks' gingery coral, a shade that glows deep orange at sunset-a heartening sight in the middle of winter. And I like Max's huge walls of windows. Almost as large as an old drive-in movie screen, each of these blocks provides an ongoing show of clouds being hurried across the breezy Chicago sky. I like the fact that when you walk along University Avenue at night, you aren't scurrying past an empty, windswept field but rather are looking up at a comforting block, window after window offering glimpses of clean, well-lighted places (at least from the outside; the inside is up to the occupant). And if I were a student I'd like rolling out of bed and being only steps away from Bartlett, the Reg, or the quads. In short, it must be nice to call Max home.

Speaking of blocks…
…few U of C alumni seem to suffer from writer's block. Whether it's firing off a letter to the editor or publishing an article or book, graduates have taken to heart their own version of the Chicago adage, writing early and often. We regularly publish pages of book notices, and yet, as our impatient authors know, there's a minimum lag of four months between the day a notice is received and the day the notice appears in print, even though it's almost invariably shortened for reasons of space. Indeed one alumnus author recently pleaded in defense of his carefully worded submission: "I hope it will not be crushed into the straitjacketed formula used for all other book reviews."

Well, yes, we're afraid that it will be. Like our authors we sometimes feel the constraints of the formulae developed in the interests of including as many accomplishments of as many alumni as possible. We feel those constraints especially when it comes to the matter of obituaries. If it is hard to condense a book-the intellectual work of a few years-into 50 words or so, how much harder it is to condense someone's life. This is a difficult task even when the obituary writer doesn't know the subject personally but is simply working from the materials and facts provided. When, however, the person is a friend, it becomes harder still.

One such obituary appears in this issue, and knowing what was left out is, as always, dismaying. But our hope is that such short notices of books or deaths give readers an idea for a work they'd like to explore or a reminder of an old friend that prompts other memories. It's a starting point. Please take it and run.
-M.R.Y.


 


  FEBRUARY 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 3


  FEATURES
  > >
Liberal talk, realist thinking
  > >
The winning punch line
  > >
Physics for breakfast
  > > The young and studious


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