image Aggie Architecture: An Introduction

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Howdy and welcome! My name is Danielle Riedesel (Texas A&M Class of ’17), and though my major unfortunately has little to do with building design, masonry, or welding, I have to admit that I am a true architecture nerd. I’m one of those people who walk around mentally commentating on the façade of one building or another wondering at the age, symbolism, and design influences of the architects as I go.

I wasn’t always this way but I’ve been converted by the architectural melting pot that is Texas A&M’s campus. Throughout my years in College Station, I have spent a good amount of time wandering campus between classes, slipping in and out of the varied, beautiful buildings while distractedly trying to remember the readings I did for class and whether I completed all of my homework. After a while, however, I stopped rehashing lectures and instead began to really look at the buildings I spent my days in. As I did so I started noticing the many architectural details of the buildings on campus not only for their practicality but for their cleverly symbolic design elements.

Thus began my interest and eventual borderline obsession with the architecture of the buildings here at A&M College Station. I began to divert from my usual bus-to-class route just to fit in a visit to another random building I hadn’t set foot in yet and to find the latest adventure – as well as the weird stares from the people who actually belonged there. While I’m not saying this makes me an expert of all the campus buildings and the intricate details of their history and design, I do consider myself at the very least aware of a few of the more interesting sites, and at most well-informed of the histories of several of the most interesting buildings.

Take a moment to watch the video below. It gives a great overview (pardon the pun) of the buildings on campus and it might just inspire you to keep reading.

(I didn’t make that video… many thanks to Chad Terrell for sharing his vision of campus. Now back to the matter of Texas A&M’s history.)

As A&M was established over a hundred years ago, there are multiple eras of influence that are represented in her buildings, three of which I would like to focus attention upon. First there are the early 20th century buildings with a Beaux Arts influence. Although A&M was founded in 1876, there was a major fire in 1912 that destroyed many of the buildings from the late 19th century, so the earliest building still standing was built in 1909 – which we will cover next week (Dethloff 36). Beaux Arts is the style of architecture that is heavily influenced by classical architecture. It is often the architectural style of choice when it comes to government or college buildings because it symbolizes a return to learning and enlightenment (The American Magazine of Art 3). A good example of Beaux Arts style on campus would be the Administration Building as seen in the picture below.DSCN9337.JPG(We will discuss the Administration Building in depth later in the semester, don’t worry.)

The second era of buildings hails from more recent days and is inspired by the Modernist style which is identified by clean lines and supposed “practicality” as opposed to the more decorative style of the Beaux Arts period. They are recognizable by the exposed concrete, straight line windows, and by the general lack of overt decoration. A good example of the Modernist style would be the Eller O&M building.DSCN9477.JPGThese were mostly built in the 70s and 80s.

The third type of building is the Postmodernist (or sometimes called NeoTraditional) Style. The buildings influenced by this style era are noticeable by the fact that they almost merge the detail work of Beaux Arts and the clean lines of the Modernist movements. They often have exposed concrete exteriors like in the modernist style but are also decorated using rebar or metal additions with sometimes very busy architectural detailing. An example of this would be the Liberal Arts and Humanities building.DSCN9461.JPG

So here’s where the blog comes into play. Throughout this blog I intend to delve into the interesting histories of specific buildings, and the reasons that the architects decided to make specific artistic decisions for the facades and interiors of individual buildings.

So there you have it. Over the next few weeks I’ll introduce you to a few of the more notable or meaningful buildings on campus like the Academic building and Nagle Hall, so get excited and get ready to walk around campus staring up instead of at your feet.

Until my next post, feel free take a look at the campus map and have an electronic wander about the winding paths of College Station’s main campus!

Sources:

  1. Dethloff, Henry C. A Pictoral History of Texas A&M University, 1876-1976. College Station: Texas A&M UP, 1975. Print.
  2. Texas A&M University: From the Air. Dir. Chad Terrell. Texas A&M University, College Station. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY94iiybtQk&gt;.
  3. “THE BEAUX ARTS INSTITUTE OF DESIGN.” The American Magazine of Art 3 (1918): 121-22. Louisiana. The State of Louisiana. Web.
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