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July 2004 Archives

July 2, 2004

Men at work

It’s been said there are two seasons in Chicago—winter and construction. Even without construction projects such as the new business school, Comer Children’s Hospital, and the Interdivisional Research Building, the dictum holds true on campus. Men (we’ve witnessed no women among the workers) in hard hats are ubiquitous this summer, replacing the U of C Bookstore roof, maintaining the Hospitals and Cummings Life Sciences buildings’ facades, and trimming main-quads trees. Consider it a campus makeover.


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Photos: (first row) workers replace the slate and metal portions of the bookstore’s roof (left); the Hospitals’ facade work requires safety signs (middle); Cummings gets a facelift (right). (Second row) Jimmy Monson is “the safety guy,” ensuring trucks can get through as workers install air-conditioning pipes in the IRB (left); the main quads’ trees get a summer trim (right).

July 7, 2004

In our back yard

As students lounge, chat, and bury themselves in books, enjoying Chicago’s summer on the main quads, they probably don’t think about how the grassy plane came to be. Now nestled in the center of the 211-acre campus, the main quads, once a swampy spread 1/8th the size, was the sum total of University land when the school was granted its charter in 1890. Donated in part by Chicago merchant Marshall Field, the plot stretches between 57th and 59th streets and Ellis and University avenues, a contiguous patch thanks to a Chicago City Council edict eliminating pre-existing streets and alleys. This blank slate allowed University planners, in particular architect Henry Ives Cobb, to adopt a quadrangle scheme: a center space flanked by six smaller quads, three to the north and three to the south, enclosed by bordering buildings. Each square reflected the activities in the structures around it—for example, the Classics Quadrangle, according to the campus master plan, is more “quiet and contemplative” than Hutchinson Courtyard, where student social life was focused.

Designed to resemble England’s Oxford University, the University’s original campus was meant to provide a haven in the bustling city, suggest tradition and continuity, and emphasize the importance of wisdom and learning. Today the wide, grassy area is also a designated botanical garden, which, according to the 1999 campus master plan, is intended to grow, display, and document plants “of both ornamental and scientific interest.” And the quads keep evolving: other master plan recommendations include a pedestrian portal through the Administration Building lobby and a center circle fountain to “add appropriate emphasis to the heart of the symmetrical space.”


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July 9, 2004

Art makes you smart


“The college museum experience is absolutely seminal,” the Smart Museum’s departing Dana Feitler Director, Kimberly Rorschach, told a jam-packed lecture hall Wednesday. Addressing “Why Do Universities Have Museums?” Rorschach explored the history and purpose of university art museums, choosing, she said, to focus on “why we collect rather than what we collect.” University museums’ “unique resources,” she said—like having access to world-renowned intellectuals—allow them to meet their “distinctive mission” of providing thought-provoking art and interdisciplinary educational programs.

Indeed, the Smart’s summer exhibition, Smart Collecting: A Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration, demonstrates the collection’s variety, ranging from modern American to 18th-century Asian works. The exhibition “highlights outstanding additions to the Smart’s collection,” says a brochure, including sculpture, photography, painting, and drawing.

In August Rorschach will leave her ten-year position to become the first director of Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. Under interim director Jacqueline Terrassa, MFA’94, and beyond, Rorschach says, she is confident that the Smart will continue to help lead Chicago arts scene by showing “intellectually risk-taking exhibitions.”

Smart Collecting: A Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration will be on display through September 5.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

July 12, 2004

Summer score


Even with Maroon student-athletes on summer break, Ratner Athletic Center and the adjacent fields behind it remain packed with ballplayers, swimmers, and goalies gunning for glory. Yet there are no 300-pound linemen here. These superstars dominate the fields and courts with an average height of less than four feet.

The University’s Super Summer Sports Camp is back in session, welcoming students aged 4–16 for fun and games under the instruction of varsity coaches and student-athletes. The program has grown from 41 participants in 1995 to 225 this year, a popularity that camp director and head football coach Dick Maloney attributes to the University of Chicago name and the seven-to-one camper/staff ratio. The camp attracts participants from as far south as 95th Street and as far north as the Loop.

The 2004 session offers morning recreational and afternoon sport-specific activities, including dodgeball, soccer, football, softball, and swimming. “I like a lot of the sports we get to play, and I really like to tear it up on the football field,” says Ryan Williams, 14, a six-year camper. “I get to have fun, make friends, and play.” In fact, 75 percent of this year’s kids have attended sessions in previous years.

First-time campers are also impressed. “It’s been fun to do sports that I like and learn some new ones before we go cool off in the pool,” says Maya Glover, 10.

Today begins the second of the camp’s two three-week sessions, when a new crop of kids gets to resume the home-run hitting and goal scoring.

Sean I. Ahmed, ‘06

July 14, 2004

There's such a lot of film to see


“We’re just praying that the weather will hold out,” said Mariah Ford, ’06, ORCSA’s Summer in the City events coordinator, as she scanned the sky for approaching thunderclouds. It was a humid Tuesday night and a few dozen people, mostly students, lounged on the main quads, waiting for the free outdoor screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s to begin. There have been past summers, Ford said, when every screening got rained out, “just due to bad luck.”

Fortunately, despite foreboding flashes of lightning, Tuesday’s weather remained calm, and the audience settled into their picnic blankets and beach chairs to watch Audrey Hepburn in what is considered one of her most memorable roles. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the second of four movies that ORCSA will present this summer, including Big Fish on July 27 and Starsky & Hutch on August 10. The first screening, Kill Bill, “got a pretty big turnout,” Ford said, even though the audience complained that there were too many bugs and that the men setting up the video projection equipment were listening to Elton John.

ORCSA’s film selections reflect both a student survey conducted at the end of the school year and the need to show some family-friendly movies. Other Summer in the City events include a lunchtime concert series, free ice cream days, and trips to Second City and Six Flags Great America. As Hepburn would say in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it’s all “simply marvelous.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

July 16, 2004

Courtyard noise


For those nodding to the beat the whole hour or sneaking an extended glance on their way to and from lunch, Hutch Commons at noon on Thursdays has become the prime place to rock out to Hyde Park’s best student bands. ORCSA’s Noontime Noise series has introduced the University’s oft-hidden side to students and staff on campus this summer.

“The idea behind ORCSA's summer programming is to provide a variety of events for students and faculty during the summer,” says Mariah Ford, ’06, the Noontime Noise program scheduler. “We try to encourage students or other people affiliated with the University to perform.”

Yesterday’s show was split between two of the school’s best rock groups. Spooning with Nora, which includes “a jazz-trained drummer, a poet, a conductor, and a composer,” according to the band’s Web site, played a five-song set that took the audience on a light-hearted, summery tour through the band’s discography. Healthy Booty, a temporary side project for the U of C band Health and Beauty, followed with another half hour that ranged from the scathing noise-rock of “Guns v Butter” to the slow and pensive “Children Are A Gift From God.”

About 50 people watched the bands perform, which took place on the set-in-progress for University Theater’s A Winter’s Tale, while passersby stopped to listen for a song or two. The free show by the bands, which have played in such Chicago venues as the Metro, Lyon’s Den, Fireside Bowl, and Bottom Lounge, delighted the crowd.

A still-unannounced DJ will headline next week’s Noontime Noise, which includes free ice cream for the audience.

Sean I. Ahmed ‘06

Photos: Healthy Booty (top); Spooning with Nora (bottom).

July 19, 2004

Ring out, wild bells


Wylie Crawford, MAT’70, the University of Chicago’s carillonneur, flutters his hand up and down as he hums through a few bars of Pachelbel’s Canon, one of ten pieces he will play during his free hour-long recital August 15. As melodic as his humming is, he promises that the song sounds better on the carillon. “You can get amazing musical effects,” Crawford says, gesturing up toward Rockefeller Chapel’s lofty tower, where the instrument resides.

Rockefeller’s annual summer concert series, dubbed Carillonathon, presents an opportunity for Crawford to invite musicians from all over the world to campus. This year guest carilloneurs come from as far away as the Netherlands and as nearby as Naperville, Illinois. The performers choose their own programs, sometimes arranging the pieces themselves, so the recitals represent “whatever people are interested in working on at this particular moment.”

Every carillon is different, but playing the University’s is a special experience, Crawford says, because it’s “a real monster.” Weighing more than 100 tons (approximately the size of the new giant “bean” sculpture in the city’s Millennium Park), Chicago’s carillon is the second largest in the world.

This past Sunday a small crowd listened to Linda Dzuris, from Clemson, South Carolina, perform folk songs from Spain, America, and the British Isles. While a few people chose to climb the bell tower and sit with Dzuris as she played, most of the audience, including Crawford, sat scattered across Rockefeller’s lawn, reading, picnicking, and enjoying the tolling of this rare instrument.

Carillonathon continues at 6 p.m. every Sunday through August 22.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

Photos: listeners lounge on Rockefeller's lawn (top); university carillonneur Wylie Crawford, MAT'70 (bottom).

July 21, 2004

New café on the block


Students and professors whose work keeps them on the quads often ignore campus south of the Midway. Yet the University of Chicago Press building’s new Midway Gardens Café at 60th and Dorchester offers an enticing breakfast, lunch, and coffee option that might make them change their routine. Customers can lounge in couches and modern, padded-metal chairs in a spacious main area lit by four arched windows. Taking a page from the building it serves, the café’s shelves are stocked with Press books such as A Poet’s Guide to Poetry and Truth and Reality.

Operated by Plum Café, a catering service founded by Richard Mott, MBA’81, the coffee shop features drinks, baked goods, and made-to-order sandwiches. Midway Gardens Café is the tenth campus shop run by Mott’s company, joining the Classics, Biological Sciences Learning Center, and Law School shops.

Though the shop is already open, decorations are a work in progress. Once done, patrons will enjoy a taste of the Midway’s history along with their food and drinks. The café, named after Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1914–24 concert gardens at 60th and Cottage Grove, plans to add a 73” x 60” recreation of a John Warner Norton cubist and futurist mural that adorned the old gardens.

Sean I. Ahmed, ’06

July 23, 2004

On tour

Third-year Marya Spont hates it when people ask whether she has fun at the University. But answering such a question comes with the territory for a summer tour guide. Thursday morning Spont, dressed in a purple halter top and a low-rise, flowered skirt, does her part to put Chicago’s reputation for dreariness—which she considers undeserved—to rest. Five minutes into an hour-long campus walk, she slips off her flip-flops and scores a laugh from the crowd of about ten high schoolers and parents, visiting from as near as St. Louis and as far as New Delhi. Her crash course covers academics, housing, student life, and Hyde Park, stopping at such high-traffic spots as the Reynolds Club, Joseph Regenstein Library, and Max Palevsky Residential Commons. Along the way she recommends Shake Day and warns against stepping on the University Seal.

The Office of College Admissions keeps its daily tours—departing from Harper Library at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. March through November (the afternoon tour is dropped December through February)—small to allow for discussion. Parents do most of the probing—“Can you request a single room?” “Are all the dorms this nice?”—although father Greg Tuleja concedes, “In the end, our opinion is not going to be important.” Indeed, independence awaits.


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July 26, 2004

Botany Pond to blossom


After last summer’s massive quad tear-up to install water lines, the current Botany Pond renovation, featuring a couple workers digging holes, seems like a minor affair. Yet the effort to create a “lush garden” that harkens “back to when it was used as an outdoor classroom and laboratory,” says University Planner Richard Bumstead, could dramatically change the aesthetics of a main campus walkway.

Inspired by 1910 photos, the two-year, $180,000 project aims to recreate that century-ago pond. Back then John Coulter, the University Botany Department’s first chair, planted the area’s flora, mixing specimens from his field trips with the University’s greenhouse holdings. The new garden, Bumstead says, will reconstruct the original garden’s “marsh-like feel” with “lush and more colorful broad panels.”

The digging began July 1, accommodating the pond ducks’ annual departure. Landscapers plan to complete hardscape construction by fall and continue other time-sensitive work through spring. The ducks, turtles, and goldfish, meanwhile, await their redesigned home.

Sean I. Ahmed ’06

July 28, 2004

Alumnus examines drug trade


While the film’s star shuffled nervously beside him, occasionally acknowledging compliments after a Monday evening advance screening, writer and director Joshua Marston, AM’94, answered questions and regaled the crowded Old Town, Chicago, theater with tales of creating his first feature-length film, Maria Full of Grace. The movie follows a 17-year-old Colombian girl (played by Catalina Sandino Moreno) who becomes a drug mule to escape her small-town life.

Marston, who studied political science at Chicago (he spotted an old professor in Monday’s audience), researched the film by hanging out at airport customs offices, where police arrested mules as young as 12 and as old as 84. He also spent time in New York’s Little Colombia neighborhood and in Colombia itself. Though filming had to shift to Ecuador when political violence prevented the crew from securing production insurance, Marston told Monday’s gathering that what scared him most was having the “audacity” as an American to try his hand at a Colombian film.

But he’s already attracted authentic praise—Colombia’s first lady invited him to screen it twice for assembled dignitaries, and the country purchased a print for educational purposes. In June a 17-year-old Columbian boy called Marston to say he had been scheduled to travel as a mule but the movie changed his mind. International critics have also hailed the film, which won awards at the Seattle, Berlin, and Sundance film festivals.


Photo: writer and director Joshua Marston, AM'94, and actress Catalina Sandino Moreno on the set of Maria Full of Grace (bottom).

July 30, 2004

Women on board

The Women’s Board members chat eagerly as Chris Love, executive director of the Alumni Association, leads them around the Alumni House, old fraternity quarters that the association moved into nine months ago. “We wanted it to be comfortable,” Love says, showing off the conference room and lounge. “We wanted a homey atmosphere.”

The crowd murmurs its appreciation. “It’s just so marvelous,” says one white-haired, bespectacled board member. “This is what you call giving back.”

In the lounge the two dozen women settle in for University Architect Curt Heuring’s presentation on the Master Plan. The 1999 plan, calling for the development of nine new campus buildings, is nearly complete. Now, he says, the University is looking ahead to future projects that will “create a density and vitality south of the Midway that hasn’t been there before.”

To get a closer look at the new buildings, the group boards a bus for a campus tour, guided by Robert Feitler, X’50, chair of the Master Plan Executive Committee. He points out buildings in progress such as the Interdivisional Research Building and the Chicago GSB Hyde Park Center, the plan’s remaining projects. Along the way the women meet up with Bill Michel, AB’92, assistant vice president for student life, who takes them around the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and Max Palevsky Residential Commons.

The board members swap opinions on each building. When driving past the new GSB, one woman sniffs, “Well, it certainly doesn’t fit with the neighborhood.” And while Ratner seems to be a crowd-pleaser, the Palevsky dorm engenders more conflict. “I fell in love with the new dorms eventually,” says a young alumna, “but it took a while.” An older board member disagrees. “I love it,” she enthuses, heading out of Palevsky and back to the bus. “I love it.”

Leila S. Sales, ’06

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About July 2004

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in July 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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