Jake Renfer1-17-18Advanced Geometry Architecture PaperBrookings Hall, Washington University St. Louis Brookings Hall, a large structure positioned on the Washington University campus, is an impressive building filled with history. In 1899, Washington University held a competition to see who could come up with the best architectural design for the new building they planned on creating. The competition was really fascinating because in the modern era such things like that don’t exist and it gave everyone the chance to potentially design a gigantic building. The administrators at Washington University selected the design submitted by a firm based in Philadelphia named Cope and Stewardson.
Cope and Stewardson was said to have taken inspiration from buildings at Cambridge or Princeton. On November 3, 1900 the first cornerstone was laid. In two years, the building would finish being constructed. The building itself looks like the letter “I” because it has a long corridor intersected at it’s two ends with a smaller corridors.
The corridors are made out of stone and brick and look like rectangles with isosceles triangles of the same width on top of them. The isosceles triangles create the roof and they are made out of asphalt shingles. The brick design adds to the buildings prestigious ambience because it represents wealth as it is an expensive material. The main, large corridor is bisected by a tower like structure that looms over the rest of the corridors. The tower is supported by two arches underneath that create a walkway which has a plaque dedicated to William Greenleaf Eliot, the University’s third chancellor. Above the arches is a brick square that has four cylindrical hexagons sprouting up at each of its corners.
The square houses the chancellor and it provides an overhead view of the Washington University Campus. The square has a clock at the western and eastern ends with Latin inscriptions above them. The inscription on the western part of the square reads Cedunt Horae, Opera Manent, meaning “the hours go by, the works remain.” And the Eastern part of the square reads Discere Si Cupias Intra: Salvere Iubemus, meaning “if you wish to learn, enter: we welcome you.” 1904 was a historic year for St. Louis. Perhaps the the biggest achievement was when the city held the summer olympics, but another notable event was the World’s Fair.
When the World’s Fair was going to be held in St. Louis, an administrative office needed to be chosen. So they decided to pick Brookings Hall as a their command center. Then in 1905, Brookings Hall was chosen by Washington University as the administrative office and was referred to as the “University Hall.” It wasn’t until 1928, following the retirement of Washington University’s president and long time donor Robert Brookings, that they decided give University Hall its current name of Brookings Hall. Brookings was an American businessman who had a rags to riches story in which he had humble beginnings but then became a millionaire through his firm that dealt with the sale and distribution of household goods. He took an interest into education and research, evident in his $200k donation to Washington University, which translates to a staggering 5.
5 million dollars in today’s money. He also founded the Brookings Institution in 1916 which researches social sciences such as economics, politics, etc. With all of this in mind it is easy to see why he was picked to be the Washington University President in 1895 with his optimism and passion for knowledge accompanied by his big pockets.
Today Brooking’s Hall accommodates for the Admissions Office, the Chancellor’s office and room, financial services, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In most recent history the building was used as the control center for alumni Steve Fossett’s circumnavigation of the globe with a balloon in 2002. Fosset attempted this six times, and his sixth attempt, which was successful, was controlled at Brooking’s Hall.
The Hall is also the entrance to the Washington University campus and as you walk up the brick stairs leading up the the building, it appears as a massive site. But the awesome thing about it is that it doesn’t just represent Washington University or prestige, it also represents heritage. The building is over 100 years old, which is totally amazing. To think that if you walk inside of it, you’re walking where students did over 100 years ago. Although it has been refurbished, it is still the same. And it also serves as a reminder that it is our current contributions to education and society as a whole that impact the future generations. Because Washington University is now one of the best schools in the country, and it started out with the help of donators like Robert Brookings.