Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The top 5 Lee buildings that should be demolished...

The Beach science building is getting the demolition ax this summer, and Hughes Hall may likely receive the same fate in the years to come, so I can't help but wonder...

Which buildings on the Lee University campus are next in line for the chop?

So, I present my suggestions. The following buildings need to go to make way for better facilities at Lee:

5. The Conn Center

First of all, take a look at the Conn Center. The neo-Seventies design hardly fits in with today's classic but modern scheme adopted in newer buildings across campus. The balcony lacks any sort of handicapped access, and the cathedral skylights, grand orchestra pit and built-in ceiling speakers have been abandoned. The walls have cracked, the foundation called weak, in general, the building has a bit of an image problem, and I haven't even mentioned the orange seats and outdated choir lofts.

The campus could use a whole new auditorium, built to today's standards, able to seat the entire student body at once. Such a massive undertaking would no doubt be expensive, but it certainly would be worth it.

4. Walker Memorial

If you want to point a finger at the plainest building on campus, look no further. A cheaply-built square, Walker Memorial fits three floors of mundane classrooms plus a windowless attic into its entirely handicapped-inaccessible frame. The stairs can be tiring to trudge, and unless you're a fan of the jumbo-sized bathrooms on the first floor (The sink room is larger than most faculty offices), there's not much to like about the building.

Why does it stick around? Classroom space. Once the new mathematics wing opens at the new science building, faculty offices and classes will move from Walker Memorial, bringing the aging structure one step closer to uselessness.

3. Higginbotham Administration Building

If you've ever seen an old photo of Lee, you might have spotted a grandiose structure connected to the old brick Centenary building at the front of campus.

Old Main, as it was called, served both the Methodist Women's College and Bob Jones College before Lee occupied the campus. It was a graceful building from a more aesthetic era.

When Old Main was demolished, it was replaced with a Hughes-Hall style office building. From the inside and the outside, the building is simply ordinary. For a structure that serves as the crux of campus, Higginbotham does nothing special to welcome guests or visitors. If the building were constructed today, it would likely feature some sort of commanding apex, similar to the clock tower at the Humanities Center or the bell tower at the PCSU.

The building is too cramped to fit all of the administrative aspects of Lee, as evidenced most recently by the move of the human resources department. In addition, alumni relations and other academic services have been housed outside of the building to save space.

It doesn't fit Centenary. It doesn't compliment history. An updated building would provide the university with a whole new chance to impress and excite prospective students. It would serve as an offering to higher education.

2. Center for Calling and Career

If Dr. Conn has the vision to remove Hughes Hall to improve the postcard-atmosphere of the new science and math building, there's no doubt there will be talk about razing the Center for Calling and Career.

The center, which is squeezed into an old house on the edge of campus (much like the health clinic once was), has become a blemish on the Lee landscape. It's like the annoying kid sticking his hand in front of the camera at the last second to mar a beautiful image.

If the university had had the money and foresight at the time, I believe it would have been in the best interest to combine offices for the center into the recently built Leonard Center, perhaps boosting the building an additional level. By solving the spacial dilemma earlier, the university would not have to worry about where to relocate the office now when (not if) it chooses to demolish the ugly house.

1. Nora Chambers, Tharp and Simmons Halls

Three dorms located on prime property in the center of campus, adjacent to both the pedestrian mall and the dining hall, Tharp, Simmons and Nora Chambers represent the worst and perhaps the ugliest architecture at Lee.

Parts of the buildings were never meant to house dorm rooms, in fact the first floor of Nora chambers was once made up entirely of classroom space. The old fire escapes are archaic, the rooms are sometimes tiny, the lounges compressed.

If Lee could undergo the challenge of replacing every bed in those dorms elsewhere on campus, and find a temporary solution for campus safety, it would likely be in the best interest of the university to demolish it all and start anew.

The space is valuable and could make an excellent spot for a centerpiece on Lee's campus, one that would compliment the old (Centenary) and the new (Humanities) from each respective direction.

• What buildings do you think should be demolished? Leave a comment.


Heather said...

Get rid of Nora Chamber? The beloved dorm of which I spent my first year at Lee? Are you kidding me? In all seriousness, even though I love that building very much, I do agree that the three dorms are lacking compared to today's structures. I do hope that if they ever get torn down, that new dorms will be built caring the same names.

Anonymous said...

You're leaving Medlin and Hughes?!

Harrison Keely said...

I agree, the names should remain, especially because of history.

Hughes Hall I mentioned was already likely in the line-up to be destroyed.

Medlin is actually part of the Historic District and has so much history (Billy Graham, etc.) that it really couldn't be torn down.

Daniel Welker said...

Tear down Nora, Simmons, and Tharp?! What the heck? I can understand the rooms in Nora and Simmons being small, but that's it. Tharp especially is nice inside. And besides, WHERE WILL ANOTHER DORM GO?

I agree that Conn Center needs a little interior work, and the aforementioned abandoned features need to be used. However, it also shouldn't go. Where would they put it, and where would people attend chapel if the Center were torn down and rebuilt?

Put Hughes Hall at #1 and completely remove the Ped Mall dorms. Maybe replace Conn Center with the Watkins building (most of the language classes are at Vest anyway), and it'll be ok. :-)

John said...

+1 to Conn center and Admin building... especially the Admin.

the others are cool buildings. perfect? no, but they add character. I personally like the fact that walker memorial has slanted ceilings in the attic rooms and i don't see brick-o-block in the classrooms like every other building built now-a-days.