Posted May 24, 2012 by Joel Pettigrew 

Taking a Moment to Look Around

We are all busy people, wearing many hats across both our professional and personal lives, so that the recommended work time of 40 hours gets stretched all too often. But how often do we stop, look around, take a breath, and try to understand what our unions or our campuses at large are saying to us, our students, and visitors? The ways our campuses and our unions are built and laid out give our institutions a unique culture and history, such as the Oval at Ohio State or Military Walk at Texas A&M.

But how often do we stop to appreciate this influence, or have the opportunity to learn something new about our campus? I had a moment of this recently, as my partner, in his Final Review for graduate school in architecture, featured Bornhuetter Hall, a residence hall on Wooster’s campus.  Bornhuetter has a unique architecture for Wooster, but my partner pointed out its construction actually serves to welcome students and visitors into its plaza by creating an "open gate" or "raised curtains" effect. This architectural creation of an "event" and community gave me a new perspective on the hall and its influence on our campus. 

I wonder, if we took a minute to breathe and take another look in between our to-do lists and meetings, what we might learn or better understand about our campus or our buildings.


Are our unions or campuses telling students and visitors, “Welcome!” or is another message being communicated?  What are ways (other than major construction projects!) that we can continue to make our institutions more inclusive and inviting?

Joel Pettigrew

Joel Pettigrew is the Conference Manager at Emerson College.

Joel studied history at Texas A&M University and student affairs at Ohio State University. He has a keen interest in the relationship of urban design and urban campuses and how that influences the campus community experience. When he is not sending all-caps tweets (@therealjoelp), he is probably at his favorite place, Bukowski Tavern, reading a book.


Joel, You ask great questions that most people don't want to take the time to consider. I work at a proudly urban campus which goes out of its way to be a jewel box of a garden because we value our students and education and believe we can show that by providing flowers and benches, etc. In response, we have almost no graffiti or destruction. Unfortunately, we've hired some architects and designers who don't take the outdoor lessons indoors and we end up with narrow hallways and zero lounge spaces in general classroom buildings. I suspect your partner won't become one of them. Sarah
Sarah-Ann Harnick
Comment posted 05/29/2012 8:36 AM
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