blocks on campus
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.