27 August 2009

de-constructing foust

this morning, students in the hss105 course dissected and speculated about the foust building as visual evidence for values of the university. their first efforts at "reading" using the classroom of the campus yielded some salient observations about buildings and the language that we all use to talk about them. here they complete the "thick description" exercise (with a nod to clifford geertz) before we began our class discussion.

the building that represented the target for our analysis: foust (originally the administration building on campus), built at the end of the nineteenth century. above, my drawing that represents my "thick description" for the morning.

here's a terrific ca. 1905 image of foust all "flagged up," with the two towers marking the center of the structure. horizontals and verticals balance here as surface decoration, and the massive front facade, facing spring garden avenue, suggest the importance of the building in the community landscape. to respond to the observation of the student who indicated that foust "looked so different," consider the following additional historic image of the building (ca. 1900) and its built environment context. looks to be the only survivor...

the latter two images posted here are part of a neat digital exhibition on postcards by the university archives and manuscripts division of the uncg walter jackson clinton library. you can see the display, Postcards from the University, in its entirety online.

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