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This Page is a Brief Exploration of Georgetown University's Architecture

Image 1: Aerial View.

This first image is a good starting point because not only do we see a great portion of the campus, but we see the campus from somewhat of an aerial view. In the particular case of Georgetown's campus architecture, this aerial view is important, because it elucidates a critical theme of the campus as a whole: the interplay between red and white stone-facades that depends on the relative orientation of the given facade with respect to the rest of the campus. As you will see, buildings that face the front of the campus-the front being the Gates on 37th and O Streets-all share a white, or at least gray facade, with the minor deviation being the darker gray of the library's concrete. Buildings that face the inside of campus-if we treat anything behind the white-facade buildings as the campus interior-all boast a red facade. In this particular image we see how some buildings, especailly Healy Hall, boasts two distinct facades depending on directon. White Gravenor and Copley follow the same pattern, and together these three buildings are also the most notable features of the historic white-stone-facade architecture that faces the town of Georgetown.

Below are some specific images of buildings on campus with distinct white and red facades, as well as some of the areas behind them toward the campus interior.

Image 2: Healy Front Facade.

Image 2.1: Healy White Stone Detail (central entrance, with snapchat comment).

Image 3: Healy Red Brick Facade, facing Dahlgren Quadrangle (self taken which explains the trippy angle).

Image 3.1: Healy Red Brick Detail (central entrance).

The above two pictures are a closer look at the red and white facades of Healy. It is interesting to note that stylistically, the white facade is not much more elaborate than the red at the lower levels. Really, the biggest gap in elaborate detail is at the higher stories, where we have the Healy Clock Tower--boasting incredibly detailed masonry--on the front side, and nothing of that nature on the red brick side.

Image 3.2: Snapshot of Healy Clock.

Image 4: Dahlgren Quadrangle, facing away from Healy at another strange angle, not directly perpendicular to Healy.

Image 5: White Gravenor Hall, front white facade facing entrance quad (with fun snapchat caption included).

Image 6: Red Square (with change in exterior appearance from white to red of White Gravenor visible in center of the image).

Image 7: Copley Hall (White Facade).

Image 8: Red Square (with view of red-facade of Copley facing campus interior).

As you can see, the buildings that constitute the major theme of the front of Campus--Healy, White Gravenor, and Copley--all boast very distinct facades towards the campus interior relative to their front-facing facades. The consistent distinction is a shift from a Grey articulation on the front-facade to a red articulation on the opposing facade. It is also worth noting that these three prominent buildings all partake in prominent campus quads or congregation areas simultaneously. While together they form, with the help of Lau, Georgetown's palatial front yard, Healy joins the McCourt School of Public Policy, the Dahlgren Chapel, and Memorial Hall in creating the Dahlgren Quadrangle at its interior-facing side. White Gravenor and Copley, while also sharing a presence with Healy in the front lawn, work with one another to create the Red Square, another communal space that in this case is formed by the sides of Copley, White Gravenor, and the front of the ICC.

Image 9: Memorial Hall.

There is also some classical architecture on campus, particularly (perhaps only) at Memorial Hall, and maybe at the small tempietto-like structure behind yates which I believe is a church. Nonetheless, Memorial Hall's presence on campus is a powerful one, and I certainly enjoy it.

Image 10: Village A and Memorial Hall.

One of the most interesting architectural relationships on campus is that between Village A and Memorial Hall. Village A's architectural style is far more modern, incorporating some brutalist and cubist principles, while Memorial Hall, antithetically, strictly conforms to classical conceits in its exterior style. Village A is one of a handful of on-campus villages that exercises a modern, and rather playful architectural design. Village A in particular--with the possible exception of Henle--is most playful in its overall effect, interacting with the visitor as a rambling village of unique--albeit connected and notably similar--residential blocks.

Image 11: Harbin Hall.

Harbin Hall, featured above, is second only to the Lauinger Library as a primary example of Brutalist architecture on campus. Personally, I feel Harbin adds a distinct element of "GRIT" to the campus, something we could use more of...although it is not so pleasing to the eye. Also worth noting is Healy's Clock Tower in the back.

Image 12: Lauinger Library.

There it is, folks. The Brutal of the Brutal. Though I will admit, I have come to had a distinct love for Lau, but there is no doubt that today Brutalist architecture to this extent is usually off-putting.

Image 12.1: Lauinger Library Steps.

There is something incredible about the view of Healy from Lau's steps, so I had to throw a picture in of that.

Images 13-14: Thompson Athletic Center and Kennedy Hall (left to right).

The majority of more recent architecture on campus is in the style seen above: a modern take on some Gregorian and Romanesque conventions, espectially in the use of red-brick in a relatively simple articulation--though not so simplistic as to be confused with the minimalist or modern style--, and in the emphasis on heavy masonry, respectively.

Images 15: Intercultural Center.

I don't entirely know what to say about the ICC. Definitely modern, and definitely plays with classical conventions, especially with the massive pillars on either side of the Red Square entry way, but the massive block (as seen on the left side of the image above) on the side towards Cooper Field almost has a brutalist effect. Ultmiately, its bold, and I don't totally understand it.

Images 16: View of the Potomac (from HFSC).

Worth noting that Georgetown University's Campus does indeed orient itself in a handful of ways/instances to the Potomac, most prominently in the viewing deck on the HFSC (from which this picture was taken), or on the Village A rooftops.

Images 17-18: View of the Potomac (from HFSC).

Lastly, it is worth noting how our campus boasts numerous green spaces all around. Some of these spaces are certainly more prominent than others--such as the front lawn or space adjacent to Memorial Hall, both featured above from left to right--but they add a distinct natural element to campus that I think is important, and refreshing.

Ultimately, I hope you enjoyed this brief journey through Georgetown's Campus. Below are some questions that might be worth considering?

Why do you think there is such an intentional and patent distinction between facades that face the front lawn and those that do not? Do you feel that the red-brick facades have the effect of a more welcoming and communal appearance? Are the white-facades, presumptuous and shallow, manifesting a dishonest portrayal of our campus? (I do not think so, but I can see how that would be a reasonable interpretation.)

Do you appreciate the more modern architecture on campus? Do you think it takes away from, or compliments our more historic campus features?

What would you add or take away from Georgetown's campus? What structures do you think are critical to our campus's identity?

Check out the brief youtube video below that offers a sense of the architecture of the town of Georgetown itself. You might find it interesting to see how the University's campus is distinct from its surrounding town, and how the two are similar.

Also worth checking out is the link below that leads to an article about the campus of the University of Virginia. UVA's campus is among the most famous examples of university architecture, and is a personal favorite of mine. See how UVA compares to Georgetown in its physical identity, and consider why there are such differences between the two campuses, and what those differences reveal or indicate about the school's identity as an instution.

"AD Classics: University of Virgina/Thomas Jefferson"