The first time I visited Goucher’s campus was in June of 2011. I had only just finished my junior year of high school, and, overwhelmed by the possibility of actually attending college here, I basically developed amnesia regarding the entire campus tour, so unfortunately I don’t remember
what the Julia Rogers building looked like before its renovation, so my opinion of its new design has no relationship to its prior design. But hey—I have been in the other buildings on campus, and when considered as part of the whole, I think the new Julia Rogers building is pretty impressive.
It doesn’t surprise me to hear some students criticize the new building; many people just don’t like change. I’ve heard many students call the building a maze, frustrated by the fact that the layout is different, and they have to think about how to get where they are going. But given time, I believe students will find the new building pretty easy to navigate. Most of the hallways funnel into one main hallway, so it’s easy to follow the room numbers and find the classroom you’re looking for. I have also heard students complain about the starkness of the building (I’ve heard the word “hospital” used to describe it), but I have faith that, in time, the rich and colorful student-created art work that decorates the rest of the campus will find its way into Julia Rogers as well.
I am proud of the fact that the designers were careful to preserve features of the original building during their renovations. The external structure of the building, the main stairwell, and a few other features remain as they were. The preservation of existing features means that the builders used existing resources and reduced labor costs—both of which make the new building more “green”—and that the harmony of the buildings on campus, which is at least partially based on matching stonework and similarities in architecture, will be carried forward.
Another feature of the building that I like is the Soper Room, which is now the official house of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing. The room, which overlooks the academic quad, has wide panoramic windows that flood in the natural light. It is quite possibly the most pleasant room on campus. There are bookshelves along the north and south walls that house hundreds of books on composition, poetry, and prose (topics basically comparable to the nectar of the gods for an English major like me). The couches have the strangest patterns on them, but I cannot bring myself to criticize them in the slightest; they add to the relaxed, pleasant vibe of the room, which complements the relaxed atmosphere of ACE housed just down the hall.
Speaking of ACE, their new Julia Rogers facilities are beautiful. There is plenty of space for Lucy the greeter dog. There is a room in the back that has three walls of windows, so as the seasons change, so will the times of day the light falls into the room and so will the view outside the window. It is a beautiful design that I believe will create pause for thought, not to mention creating a perfect ambiance for the yoga sessions that will be held in that room.
I believe the newly renovated Julia Rogers building is now a wonderfully enhanced asset to the Goucher campus. Roland Barthes, author of The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies said: “Architecture is always dream and function, expression of a utopia and instrument of a convenience.” Taking what already existed of the Julia Rogers building and combining it with a vision of what changes needed to be made was not done without great planning and consideration of its function. I think Goucher’s decision makers did quite well.