For the Love of Clark: A presentation by history graduate students

If you’ve been to CSU’s campus you’ve most likely taken a class, or gotten lost, in Clark. But even if you haven’t been lucky enough to wander the corridors of Clark C, you’ve seen the mighty edifice that takes a prominent position on the spine of campus and anchors the plaza along with the Morgan Library and Lory Student Center. 

Built in 1968 in the New Formalism style of architecture, the building is an I or ‘handbell shape’ with distinctive moats on the east and west sidesproviding greenery and seatingDesigned by James Hunter, who also was architect for the Morgan Library, Lory Student Center and Eddy Hall, the Clark building was originally called the social sciences building before being dedicated to Andrew Clark, a mathematics professor. 

As the university enters the process of assessing a renovation of this venerable space, a class of our history graduate students (HIST 540: History and Material Culture) studied the material culture and material world of the building and its elements by blending public and traditional history methodologies. Material culture is the way artifacts embody a culture’s meanings, values, and even abstract ideas. In the class, students learn to interpret objects as a way of gleaning more from the past than traditional textual sources alone can provide and to use artifacts and larger material world to tell meaningful stories about the past. 

The topics covered in the Dec. 3 Zoom presentation include: 

  • Architectural style – New Formalism – classical elements with modern methods (columns, arches, pedestals with white color and concrete) 
  • Concrete and sandstone – using locally sourced materials 
  • Exterior and interior colors of Clark – moving from white to maroon/burgundy 
  • Planted and built environment – one of the moats includes Green Ash trees, currently being protected from the emerald ash borer 
  • Brise Soleil – otherwise known as the wine bottle holders or honeycombs that block or refract direct sunlight 
  • Windows & Doors 
  • Flow – including staircases and accessibility 
  • Furniture 
  • Lighting 
  • Art  

Watch the presentation and see if your opinion of Clark, like that of many others who watched live, changes! Ultimately, viewers had a new-found appreciation for the history and function of this building. 

Assistant teaching professor and class instructor Adam Thomas says this is the building that “So many people love… to hate.” 

Read more about assistant professor Adam Thomas, who is an alumnus as well as a professor.