UIC Neighborhood Walking Tour

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UIC Neighborhood Walking Tour
Posted by: jamessolon (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: July 27, 2015 11:15PM

Here is a link to a 2005 talk for the Chicago Literary Club which gives a lengthy critique of Walter Netsch's UIC campus.


The Sunday FC walking tour was a bit glib on the topic of Netsch's Field Theory, but here it is discussed rather clearly with lots of pictures of the building designs which exemplified it. His formal approach explored what happened when you rotated squares and cubes, and what kind of spaces and building forms might result. Two buildings on campus, the Behavioral Sciences Building and Science & Engineering South were completed using Field Theory. They can be bewildering upon first experience, but as an alumnus who got to know his way around both of the buildings, I thought they worked pretty well. The Architecture & Art building, where I spent most of my time, was only 40% completed, and it was a disaster for new and experienced users.

On the topic of the raised walkways, they were the key to the campus experience. You got a sense of the master plan from that 2nd story vantage point. They placed you into the heart of an architectural event, something of a rare occurrence otherwise in life. The critique of the hardness, if not hostility, of the feel of the campus is certainly valid, but with the removal of those walkways went also the heart of the master plan. Personally, I really miss them, although I well remember how they rained on the users below. I loved the long colonnades experienced below and the negative spaces created between the unique columns and capitals.

The campus is now a more pleasant environment, no doubt. I appreciate the irony of Netsch's loss of essence in light of what was demolished in Little Italy & Greektown to create the campus.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2015 11:32PM by jamessolon.

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