reed magazine logowinter2006

Architectural Gems?

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Watzek Sports Center, erected 1965
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The chemistry building (subsequently renamed the Psychology Building), erected 1949
   

A Getty-funded report ranks Eliot Hall and the Hauser Memorial Library, along with the Psychology Building and Watzek Sports Center, among Reed’s treasures.

By Cielo Lutino ’94
Photographs courtesy of Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library

If a demolition crew made its way to Reed, historic preservationists might chain themselves to the Psychology Building and refuse to move until the wrecking ball took aim elsewhere.

That’s right, the psych building—that dowdy rectangle of metal and glass plunked right next to the college’s east parking lot—has gotten top marks in a new assessment of Reed’s historic architecture and landscape. Ditto the Watzek Sports Center, with its plywood-clad rectangular masses nestled into the hillside sloping down to the west parking lot.

Reed’s Heritage Master Plan, funded by a grant from the J. Paul Getty Trust, concludes that the merits of the college’s best Modernist buildings rank just below its signature neo-Gothic structures—Eliot Hall and Old Dorm Block. It finds them every bit as worthy of admiration and preservation as such collegiate stalwarts as Hauser Memorial Library, the student union, Cerf Amphitheatre, and Prexy.

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Architect Pietro Belluschi (center) and a partner review blueprints for Reed’s new chemistry building in 1948 with chemistry professor Arthur F. Scott (right). Scott had been acting president of the college from 1942 to 1945.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be alarmed: Wrecking balls aren’t headed for Reed any time soon. Indeed, the most ambitious new building project now being contemplated by the college—a new home for the performing arts—would likely nestle into the same grassy hillside as Watzek, without disturbing that building’s Modernist lines.

But with pressures mounting on campus facilities, college planners have been eager for a tally of Reed’s existing buildings and open spaces. When the college purchased the old Eastmoreland Hospital property directly north of campus in 2003, the acquisition triggered local zoning regulations that required Reed to present city planners with an updated campus facilities master plan. That development, along with increasing demand for meeting spaces, staff offices, and student housing, added to the imperative for an architectural heritage assessment to guide growth.

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