University of Massachusetts Amherst professors Max Page and Marla Miller, members of the architecture and history faculty, present their research and sign copies of their new book, Beauty, Cravings, Virtue: A Celebration of the Architectural Legacy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in a special Sesquicentennial lecture.
Page and Miller take a loving and clear-eyed look at the wide-ranging architecture and landscape of the 150-year-old UMass Amherst campus in the hefty and glossy new addition to The Campus Guide series from the Princeton Architectural Press.
Miller and Page admit from the outset that not all campus architecture is for everyone. Critiques of what some call a chaotic “dictionary of design” are often relentless. The authors, in an article appearing in the new issue of UMass Amherst magazine, quote Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell as writing that the campus in 1974 was, “a jumble of unrelated personal monuments that looks more like a world fairgrounds than a campus.”
“Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder,” write Miller and Page, “but the beholder’s eye changes over time and what was once ugly can become beautiful – just as it may become ugly once more.”
As UMass Amherst celebrates its Sesquicentennial Founders Week, April 22-29, the campus itself is a particularly effective lens through which to view the evolution of the institution that was created as Massachusetts Agricultural College following the passage of the Morrill land grant act, notes Page.
“The campus, both its glorious buildings and its less-beloved ones, is part of a noble story – perhaps the most noble story we have – of the attempt to achieve the vision Gov. John A. Andrews announced to the legislature on January 9, 1863: ‘We should have a university which would be worthy of the dream of her fathers, the history of the state, and the capacity of her people’.”
Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy says that The University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus Guide will be especially helpful to visitors and returning alumni who may not be familiar with the building boom currently under way. It is the second such boom in the last half century, he said, and it is fundamentally changing parts of the campus.
“The architecture of the campus does more than alert those who approach that they have arrived at UMass Amherst—although it does this dramatically well,” writes Subbaswamy in the book’s forward. “It also tells us that ours is a particular and special university, one devoted to both excellence and access.”
Marla Miller, professor of history and director of the public history program at UMass Amherst, is the author, most recently, of Betsy Ross and the Making of America, which was a finalist for the Cundill Prize. Max Page, professor of architecture and history, is the author of Cities End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction and, most recently, co-edited Rediscovering Jane Jacobs.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. The University of Massachusetts Campus Guide is also available at the University Store and from other area booksellers, as well as from major online booksellers.