Thursday, May 05, 2005

School Buildings: An Introduction to Ugly Spaces

The public school year ends on May 17th. I'll be glad to have the LS and LD home more with a vacation schedule. They can stay up later, take fewer before bed baths and enjoy the ten weeks of vacation. Both children have full schedules for the summer.

Yesterday when I picked up the LD at school I looked hard at her school buildings. The buildings are ugly. Brick and metal boxes with ugly doors, bad colors, no style at all. The interior of the school buildings don't look better. Every detail of the school is utilitarian; nothing beautiful to enjoy. Nothing.

Does this matter?

My elementary school was a red brick neighborhood school with entrance pediments, shaped columns, arched windows on the facade and a curving stairway inside. My middle school was a brick and metal box. My high school was more brick and metal boxes. Does the architecture of the school effect the learning? I would think it does. My living environment sure makes a difference in how our family functions. Lighting, colors, ceiling height and furniture impact how we interact with one another.

I must remember to tell the children that their colleges will have pretty campuses. I think this will surprise them as the ugly functionality of school buildings is all they know. I remember watching LS see the Duke campus for the first time. Looking back, I'm not sure he comprehended a group of harmonious building.

We have a Session meeting this afternoon. One of the agenda items is discussion of painting and repairing the sanctuary. It's time for the congregation to freshen our historic space with repairs and new paint.

I'm preaching on Ascension texts Sunday. Let us be in prayer for one another.


PPB said...

Okay, this is really wierd. I KNOW I commented on this yesterday!! Where did it go????

I totally believe in beautiful buildings for schools. I really think it affects how you feel about being there.

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up in the South, new schools and new church education buildings were all made out of same thing--- concrete blocks. Whatever committee was assigned the architectural decisions obviously was aesthetically impaired. Concrete blocks, generally a pastel green, and metal windows. What does it say that we don't want to spend money or have taste in our public buidlings, that we don't want nice environments for our kids.

This, of course, is akin to the question of why we spend the least amount of money on preachers, teachers, police and firemen, but the most on professional sports players and actors.

Go figure.