A look at the latest design sketches for the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons yields an unpleasant surprise. Rather than inspire, the designs are reminiscent of an outdated, industrial style that is not worthy of occupying the heart of campus and honoring Clough’s legacy.
Fortunately, there is still time to change the architectural design of a building that stands to become a major landmark. As it stands, plans for the new edifice misuse the already limited parking and green space in the center of campus. Other structures like the Klaus, Ford and Management buildings serve as prime examples of the kind of style that fits well with Tech’s modern feel, demonstrating that environmental sustainability does not have to come at the price of aesthetics.
But not all looks grim. Plans to construct new walkways leading to and from Klaus and the library are a definite improvement from the existing paths (including the muddy detours that students are currently forced to take).
The surrounding landscape designs look inviting, large-scale projector screens across the building could become a focal point of campus and a new 500-seat auditorium is a welcome addition that could help the Institute attract and host top speakers. However, the roof design—which appears to be openly accessible—could pose a real safety threat for adventurous students looking for a new hangout spot with a nice view.
Ultimately, the new Clough building will become a second home to future classes of first and second-year students. Plans for the structure’s purpose are on the right track, offering to create not only a hub of academic rooms and labs, but also a social community environment. A more modern design and innovative ideas (like an underground parking deck) could ensure that this new building will become the crown jewel—and not the eye sore—of Tech’s campus.
The Consensus Opinion reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.