Over the past year, I declined every invitation to take a look inside the Learning Commons and Mollie Dodd Anderson Library while it was under construction. Uncharacteristically, I was all about delayed gratification where this project was concerned; I wanted to wait to see the finished product, to experience the full effect, to take in the gestalt of the place.
So, when the day of the opening faculty retreat came around, I took the tour. The moment that I stepped inside, I looked across the main room of the library and out the other side … through the walls of glass, beyond the terraces, over the swale, across South Lawn … to the grove of trees and the girls’ fields that surround them.
For a moment, I couldn’t breathe.
Although I was standing for the first time in a new building, it felt right, perfect, and true. (Some things you just know.) How extraordinary that, from the inside of that room, a most beautiful and beloved part of campus had come into view in a way I had never stopped to consider! (Maybe that’s what Frank Lloyd Wright had in mind when he designed Fallingwater above the stream instead of in view of it as had been suggested … only not.)
But it’s much more than a pretty space. With its green infrastructure and its spectacular view of the campus, I love how this building provides a visual and metaphorical framework through which to always be mindful of the beauty and, perhaps, the fragility of this cherished place.
You have to see it for yourself.