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Architect David Adjaye presents design for Center for Art and Culture

By Rebecca Costello on July 1, 2013
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Scale model photo by Andrew Daddio.

It was standing-room only at the Colgate Inn on Thursday evening, June 27, when architect David Adjaye revealed to the Hamilton community his firm’s design for the university’s proposed Center for Art and Culture (CAC).

Adjaye began by describing elements in the surrounding area that his team considered in designing the center. In addition to the surrounding landscape and its geology, he said that agrarian structures as well as “the idea of striafied, articulated volumes” like the historic Hamilton Village Hall with its windowed cupola became inspirations. “All of this has come together to inform how we look at making a high-quality, sustainable, and environmentally responsive building that also creates a fantastic environment for art.”

Adding a civic/cultural/educational institution to a commercial area, Adjaye said, “gives us the opportunity to have a new way of understanding the nature of that area.” Planned for the site formerly occupied by Parry’s hardware store between Utica St. and Madison St., the center would replace that building in the heart of the village.

The design employs a three-sectioned structure, rising from Utica Street to Madison Street, whose placement and off-kilter junctions, Adjaye noted, “playfully acknowledge” the geometry of existing buildings and asymmetry of the downtown’s roads. “We wanted to follow the scale of the buildings that exist, and the memory of the building that it will replace,” he said.

Each section is assigned a specific function, and yet the design allows for fluidity both between and within them.

Facing Utica Street, the community space would be approximately 15 feet tall and would include a flexible room for public functions, as well as offices, a reception area, and amenities. The Longyear Museum of Anthropology would occupy the slightly taller center section. On the Madison Street side, the Picker Art Gallery would be about 30 feet tall. Both collection sections would include exhibition space, seminar rooms, project space, and archive space.

The structure will take up approximately one-half of the lot, said Adjaye, with parking to the north. On the south side, a lane from Utica Street will open up to a sculpture court and more open space as one approaches Madison Street.

The façade will feature vertical blades, or fins, of pre-cast aggregate stone panels reflecting the color of the adjacent brick buildings. One side would be transparent so that passersby can glimpse the activities and artwork within. The building would work as a lightbox, Adjaye said, with clerestory windows and uplighting rather than floodlighting.

Adjaye addressed a range of questions from the audience, including the process from here.

The design has been endorsed by Colgate’s Board of Trustees, pending fundraising to finance the project.

Next, Colgate will submit the plans and a State Environmental Quality Review environmental assessment form, including parking and visual impact studies, to the Village of Hamilton’s Board of Trustees, who will consider whether to redefine its B-1 business zoning, which currently does not permit museums or art centers.

Once all approvals and funding are in place, Adjaye estimated that construction would take about a year to complete.

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29 Comments



  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    It happens that there’s a terrific profile of David Adjaye by Calvin Tomkins in this week’s New Yorker magazine (September 23, 2013). It contains a lot of biographical information, and really brings him forward as a person. Highly recommended. My sense is that it is not on the Internet without a subscription, but see the link below, in any event.

    Also, Adjaye will be giving a presentation of his current work at the Architectural League in New York City on November 21st. For more info, see second link below.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine

    http://archleague.org/events/




  • Stephen W Solomon '76, MAT '78 said:

    Meredith,

    What an odd response- judgmental, personal, harsh and sadly inaccurate. No, I am not a Trustee nor have I ever been, I am a resident albeit only part time as of 2007, and a taxpayer of the village accordingly. Yes, I do have an advanced degree- to teach high school social studies. And I have worked in financial services. I trust this is now clear.

    What counts in this exchange of views, as I have tried to explain with context, is that I am very supportive of the David Adjaye vision and the entire project. I do not need to be pre-cleared to express them.

    The community I so enjoy during my months in Hamilton and at the university every year is inclusive. I like to say that “ours is a broad church” and that we can agree to disagree. Respectfully.




  • Meredith Leland said:

    I want to thank Mr. Malona for the delicious satire he wrote at the beginning of this thread; I’m so sorry it will be lost upon the people he critiques. I was puzzled that Mr. Solomon, the wealthy Colgate trustee and London financier whose vanity project this is, claims to be a resident of the village of Hamilton. Perhaps he may have recently have bought a former family residence in the village as a fifth or sixth vacation home but that doesn’t qualify him as a townie. I hate to break it to those puffed-up with their name-dropping, advanced degrees and off-shore bank accounts, but the hayseed yokels of Hamilton are infinitely qualified to decide what architectural styles are suitable for their village.

    If these self-professed art-loving Colgate trustees and alums funded the local Arts in Education Institute in the Central New York Arts Council for a year — which sadly closed two years ago due to lack of funds — with just the spare change of that had $30 million they’re spending on this project, I’m pretty sure we could ask hundreds of public school kids to come up with drawings and Lego models more suitable and interesting for the site than those three uninspired boxes. Mr. Adjaye was quoted about how “luminous” he found the light in Hamilton to be. That’s a tip-off to lack of sincerity or impaired vision or both. It’s tragic for Hamilton that these meddling outsiders with so much money and power are too intoxicated by Adjaye’s fame to see they’re acting out a postmodern version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.




  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    Jenny, I do think there’s a role for taste in architecture, but ideally, it should be informed taste. Art historians and critics who have spent a lifetime looking at buildings have this kind of skill, and as we may expect, they don’t all agree. E.g. Paul Goldberger, formerly of the NYTimes, has always admired the works of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, while Kenneth Frampton, of Columbia U., has not. There was a huge ruckus in the UK over the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery designed by Venturi and Scott Brown. And, believe it or not, there were protests over the particularly contextual VSBA addition to the Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth. As I see it, taste is integral to the decision-making process of the architect during the design process. Other parts of your argument hold up quite well. The making of fine architecture is not and should not resemble choosing this or that revival style out of a pattern-book. That would be amateurish, and downright laughable. This is not how we’ve made real architecture in the West.

    As for David Adjaye and his design for Colgate and the Village. I support it. He’s an architect at the top of his game, and we can always find intelligence in his design decisions.




  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    Jenny, Your remarks here on architecture at Colgate are really smart. Even Robert Venturi has said that contexutalism can be taken too far. Apart from tyros like Wolf Prix and, to some extent Zaha Hadid, most architects these days take context seriously, including, as I see it, David Adjaye. Your remarks about “taste” make me want to go back and read commentaries about Kant’s Critique of Judgment.




  • Stephen W Solomon, '76, MAT '78 said:

    Prof Kraynak,

    For the avoidance of doubt, I hope you are not speaking for me when you talk about “consensus” in terms of your steps 3 and 4 that you contemplate.

    I admire, respect and appreciate the plans of David Adjaye for the Culture and Arts Center, as presented, for the Colgate-owned former Parry’s and empty lots between Utica and Madison streets. My personal view is that the design IS clever and attractive, offering a new dynamic to the village, one entirely appropriate to its purpose. I welcome it!

    Thank you.




  • Jenny Meakins '05 said:

    I am still not convinced of point number 3, Prof. Kraynak, which is a completely subjective assessment that “The current design proposal is not attractive and does not fit the surrounding environment.” Statements such as this relate to taste, which is not a valid argument in the discipline of Architecture. From the perspective of a layman, or the general public perhaps, these are valid things to talk about; however, there are aspects of your argument, Professor, that are attempting to justify these opinions from an educated standpoint. If this is your intention, than you should approach Architecture with the disciplinary respect that you would give to your own academic discipline.

    It should be noted, Architecture projects, at least good ones, are not ordered as if the architect is selling them in a catalog (or website), especially not by taking pieces of one and mixing them with another.

    I am relieved that there are several people on this comment board who appreciate the value of the project as it is now, as well as the intentions of the University in commissioning Adjaye. And perhaps the project isn’t interesting enough, but overall I am very happy with the spirited debate and attention that the project is receiving and thanks for letting me weigh in.




  • Robert Kraynak said:

    My final thoughts are based on numerous conversations that I have had with local citizens and others about the proposed design. The consensus seems to be:
    1. A new arts and cultural center is a good idea – although some still believe a commercial enterprise would be better.
    2. The plan to have three separate but linked units is a good idea and original in its own way.
    3. The current design proposal is not attractive and does not fit the surrounding environment.
    4. Therefore, request a Plan B proposal by Adjaye and compare the first and second proposals. I checked Abjaye’s website, and he has some other designs that might be better — the Tate building, for example.

    http://www.adjaye.com/projects/special-projects/the-source-collaboration-with-doug-aitken-tate-liverpool/

    Or,
    Ozwald building
    http://www.adjaye.com/projects/retail-commercial/ozwald-boateng/

    What’s wrong with a choice between different plans or proposals? We can still have an “adjaye” but a different one. Anyway, I have enjoyed the discussion, and I hope no one is offended by a robust and legitimate debate.




  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    Comparing David Adjaye to Frank Gehry is not especially helpful. They are very different architects, to say the least. That Adjaye, is famous in his own right, should not be held against him, or, this design for Colgate and the Village of Hamilton. The prospect that really fine modern architecture, should not be allowed above, say the line that divides The Bronx from Westchester County, makes no sense. Actually, Adjaye’s sensibility is more lyrical than “stiff”, this in wake of Postmodernism in design. For truly stiff architecture, we’d have to go back to the Miesian influenced designs in the US from the 1950s and 1960s. In the name of architectural design, Colgate, the Village of Hamilton, and we now in the 21st century, need to show some mettle, and engage creativity when it comes our way!




  • Steve Solomon '76, MAT '78 said:

    Dear Prof Kraynak,

    I am pleased that we have moved on a ways since your 7 July posting which I felt was a bit off-putting. And now we are at a point where we can agree that our mutual goal is that of engagement about the project. That’s clearly now well underway with today’s post from Drew Maddock ’70 representing another interesting view from our cohort. All to the good.

    Further, I continue to reflect with many in the community how fortunate we are that the Board has chosen David Adjaye whose prestige and credentials endow the project as one of novelty! After all, this CAC is meant to stimulate and in some cases provoke- in the course of attracting repeat visitors and doing justice to the collections of Colgate, not to mention serving as a community resource. We are already well down that track.

    My friends and colleagues in the Art and Art History Department are very pleased with the presentation that David Adjaye made, in particular that of the scale and scope of his vision, the light and space. Regrettably, I could not attend as I am in Europe this month.
    But I have read several professionals’ reviews of David Adjaye’s practice and successes and have come away very impressed. I like what he has done in Denver especially!

    About college settings, I have researched the newish art centers donated by communities at Colby and Hamilton colleges to gain exposure to the language used and the context of their challenges to learn how they fared with their particular missions. Of course there is much to be gained from seeing the real thing. Renderings, be they models or website photos can show only so much. Visits with opportunities to discuss them would round out my appreciation of what they tried to achieve and how they feel about the results.

    When I am back on campus in September I will hopefully have the chance to review our project’s plans in some detail. I am especially interested in choices of materials, use of space and technical functionality in the context of best practice and the state of the art. I am far less interested in how it might or might not blend in with nearby buildings. Like Drew, I can do without any reference to brick. Further, the CAC should stand on its own in terms of making its own definitive and superlative statement- as have all David Adjaye’s other successes. That’s my view and what I have seen about it online so far gives me confidence that it will do just that.




  • Robert Kraynak said:

    Dear Jenny and Steve,
    I appreciate your expertise in architecture, but surely you do not expect automatic deference to titles or prestige or the latest trends in any field. We are not being dismissive or ignorant; we are engaging in ‘critical thinking’ that opens up a legitimate debate about architectural sytles. What’s missing in your posts is any discussion of the merits of the design: Is it attractive or appropriate, and why? Discuss the specifics of the design and make the case rather than ‘dismissing’ all objections as ignorant.

    Surely you can understand that many people think that the Dana Arts Center on campus was a not good choice or Frank Gehry’s designs are daring but unattractive. If I may attempt to be humorous: Aren’t we lucky that the Statue of Liberty was not designed by an artist like Picasso? Picasso might have given us a distorted female figure with two eyes on one side and dismbowleded mid-section, rather than a classical form with robes that reminds us that freedom is ordered liberty rather than post-modern construction. The selection of neoclassical style could be considered staid and historically referential, disconcerting to the avante garde and a blow to prestige; but it would have been the correct choice for a public monument. Let’s hear the case for Adjaye’s design without appealing to prestige, novelty, and credentials.




  • Nikki Harding '90 said:

    Upon viewing the images for David Adjaye’s proposed art center my immediate reaction was an instant dislike. I have read the comments here and have to agree with Prof. Kraynak that it is not aesthetically pleasing and appears somewhat cold and sterile. I do not have a degree in architecture but majored in Art & Art History at Colgate, and I have training in what appeals to people.

    The current Adjaye design resembles the major horizontal line of the existing Parry’s facade with the minor vertical lines within, which is somewhat of an eyesore. This style is reminiscent of urban streets that I have seen in places like Utica and Boston/Cambridge/Somerville, places that were depressed, run-down, and in need of an update. In fact the ones I used to walk by daily in Somerville were torn down and replaced with more aesthetically pleasing architecture and have come back to life.

    I like the idea of the three different buildings at odd angles, giving a fresh feel to the straight row of buildings, but I think a different facade, one less prison-like, would improve on Adjaye’s design. I concur with Prof. Kraynak and would like to see another proposal.




  • Drew Maddock '70 said:

    The main criticism of this building seems to be that it does not fit in. Taken to its logical conclusion, this approach would doom us all to live in sameness. Once a town had established its style of architecture, must all later buildings be expected to conform to it? Is that really the best we can do? Once red brick always red brick? This is a kind of cultural conservatism carried to absurdity. The most interesting communities are not the ones where architecture and public design harmonize effortlessly through boring sameness, but the ones with differences, the ones with some elements which are strikingly different and interesting to look at.

    As an easterner (New York, CT, RI) who moved to California, I’m struck by the rigidity of thinking about public design in the older regions of the country vs. the willingness to experiment in newer regions like California. In most parts of New England and much of New York State, new styles of building are not often welcome. Look at the endlessly repeated “colonial” style homes throughout the Northeast, each a cookie-cutter imitation of early 19th center-hallway homes or colonial homes. Yet many of these neighborhoods were constructed in the last 50 years! The same home style is repeated endlessly until anyone with the slightest awareness of architectural style must almost die from boredom. The latest home developments are cookie cutter fake colonial villages. Downtowns of older towns and villages rigidly enforce sameness and old-fashonedness as good things. Do we do this enforcing of tradition in fashion? In thinking? In art and literature? We do in Northeastern U.S. architecture, that’s for sure.

    What is wrong with architects, then? Perhaps nothing since their job is to sell buildings, after all. What is wrong is that buyers of buildings lack any sense of variety, experimentation, or even awareness of new ways of living. They’re afraid to be different. And town councils rigidly enforce conformity to standard aesthetics. “We’re a colonial town, after all,” you can hear them say, so all new buildings must conform. Who came up with this silliness? It’s absurd on its face. The joy of an old colonial town with a wonderful new glass box in its center — as a public space or a private home — far outweighs the same-old boredom of white colonial homes up and down the block. Otherwise, we’re going to bore ourselves to death.

    In California, by contrast, some neighborhoods may suffer from the sameness of ranch-style homes, but homes are often built individually and more creatively without much reference to their neighbors, a “Spanish-style” home next to a modern deck-style home next to a Cape Cod box. I live in a post-and-beam 1950s house, my neighbor to one side lives in a very different version of that design, my neighbor on the other side lives in a Midwestern box, and the family across the street lives in a Spanish-style home. It’s interesting, colorful, and certainly not bland. Others nearby live in glass boxes which glow at night or, if they have the money, they might live in enormous baronial estates with Spanish-design elements or build a home cantilevered off a hillside next to a pool. How wonderful to be different.

    Say this to a Northeasterner raised amidst neighborhood standardization and you can almost smell the fear of being different. Old is not better. It’s boring. Variety in buildings creates an eclectic contrast. It’s invigorating. It makes the community interesting, less drab, more colorful. If there’s anything you can say about red-brick Hamilton, New York it is certainly not “colorful and interesting.”

    Meanwhile, back in the East, they’re still fighting the battle over “appropriateness” and “harmonizing” with the community. To me, this is nonsense. If there is one thing that Hamilton, New York does not need it is another “harmonized” red brick building. On my most recent trip to Hamilton (to see my daughter graduate in May 2013) I mentioned this to my wife (who doesn’t care much about architecture but knows sameness and dullness when she sees it) about how tiresome and dreary the endless red brick looked. One appeal of the white neo-Colonial style Colgate Inn, I think, is that it breaks up the sameness of the town. Were there complaints from the Red Brick is Best Crowd when the white colonial inn was built back in the 1920s? It also does not “fit in” well with the rest of the town’s “harmonizing” sameness.

    The campus nearby also isn’t red brick. It’s beautiful grey stone. But it also needs contrast. One grey stone 19th century style building after another is not beauty; it’s hardening of the arteries. Fraternity Row, or what’s left of it, has the sameness you expect of uncreative standard large homes in standard styles, but at least a few are interesting. The old Phi Kappa Tau stood out like a refreshing sore thumb in that crowd, and thank goodness for that. The village, mostly built in the 19th century, has many beautiful homes in Neo-classical style or later styles. And there are a few even more modern homes which I always found refreshing to walk by. So there actually is some architectural variety in Hamilton, New York. Just not enough. Much of the downtown is red bricked to death and in much need of a transfusion of new style.

    In fact, despite what others might say about hamonizing styles, Hamilton already has even more new style than the Inn, the campus, and a few modern homes. The village also has its share of junk store architecture of the strip-mall variety. Does the town commission ever raise objection to these cheap-jack buildings? Hamilton has a lot of this stuff scattered both in town and just outside, yet I haven’t heard much outrage about how it junks up the village. Even the Hospital is an eyesore to my eyes, anyway. And it’s red brick! Apparently it’s no problem to build this kind of cheap junk as long as we harmonize the rest of the village? If you’re against cheap junk architecture why does that automatically make you for conformity? Why not be for better varieties of architecture?

    In the 1960s, when the Fine Arts Center (the Dana Center) was constructed, there was also a good deal of shock and outrage about how it did not fit into a 19th century campus. Apparently, in some minds, we were still in the 19th century. In the 1960s it was time Colgate had something new and different. In my four years at Colgate, the Dana Arts Center was my favorite building and a kind of refuge personally, against the sameness of Hamilton and the isolation of the area as well as the frat culture (and I was in one!) and other regrettable “traditions” of Colgate. Thank goodness for this wonderful building that “didn’t fit in.” In fact, Paul Rudolph, the architect, constructed that building from grey concrete so it would harmonize. But its still still shocked many. It’s a very beautiful building that both harmonizes in color and stands apart in style. More of this would be far better than yet another harmonizing grey stone derivative until we just bored ourselves to death. The regrettable mausoleum-like science buildings built at one end of the quad attempt to “fit in” but don’t very well. Thank goodness the Old Bio Building (Haskell Hall) and the Administration/Buildings, two of my favorites. More differences, please, not fewer.

    My objections to the new arts building are different. I think it’s far too bland. I do not understand the silliness of “vertical blades . . . reflecting the color of the adjacent brick buildings.” They make the building look cheap. Why “reflect” the brick buildings at all? Better to have a building entirely made of glass, in my opinion. Are we to be forever doomed to brick, brick, and more brick simply because town founders in the 19th century had access to a cheap building material? Enough brick. I’m sick of it.

    Colleges like to be thought of as bastions of open-mindedness and creativity. In some ways they are the most conservative of institutions, rigid protectors of tradition. Where else could you watch leaders parade in 17th century academic robes following a man carrying a medieval mace subsequent to the handing out of diplomas written in Latin? Mine was even on parchment. Or was it sheepskin?

    Where the proposed design of this new arts center goes wrong is that it’s not unique and surprising enough. The design firm has clearly spent less time on this building than it would for a wealthy client or one in a major location where its design work would be noticed. It needs to rethink this building to be worth the money Colgate is investing in it. No silly “vertical blades,” please. No reflecting of adjacent buildings. We’ve already had 150 years of dull red-brickednss. Instead, make this building strikingly different, not a reflection of the neighborhood in any way. This is where the architects have gone wrong. It’s not being too different from the neighborhood, but being too bland and too similar to the neighborhood that makes the design not work nearly well enough.




  • Steve Solomon '76, MAT '78 said:

    Jenny,

    I like the way you think! So thank you for sharing your professional perspective and love of Colgate regarding the excitement this design delivers.

    As a Village of Hamilton and London resident, I get inspiration from the vitality of our faculty and students while there. With this opportunity it’s high time to take the culture and arts center to a world class level.




  • Jenny Meakins '05 said:

    As a recent graduate of Colgate and an even more recent Master of Architecture graduate from UIC in Chicago, I am so delighted to see that the University and the town are considering an alternative architectural style to the one that produced the “historically referential” designs of both the library and the new fitness center. These projects, while they may “fit in”, do nothing beyond stuff a gym and books into an updated stylized version of building that was contemporary in the late 1800s. I hesitate to even call it an architectural style, but it is one which is now used for generic development projects popular in suburban America, not a forward thinking liberal arts University.

    It is now 2013, Colgate is a world renowned institution itself, and I am so proud to claim it is my alma mater. I feel that the addition of this project by David Adjaye will introduce a new era of intellectual engagement related to architecture, art history, philosophy, mathematics, etc. All the things that a liberal arts education touts. Frankly, I am embarrassed at the dismissive and disciplinary ignorant positions taken on the Adjaye proposal.




  • Robert Kraynak said:

    Hello David:

    Correction: I mistakenly wrote your name, when I wished to address Steve Solomon and Donald Lindeman, who are the two writers favoring the present design. I counted you among the four ‘locals’ plus myself who have written in opposition to the present design. However, I thank you for clarifying your position as a Clinton, NY resident — and as someone who wishes to respect local heritage rather than overturn it.




  • Steve Solomon said:

    Prof Kraynak,

    I am surprised by your dismissal of the Bilbao museum of Frank Gehry. You can google the “Gehry Effect” to see how it is perceived which goes some way to underscore the point I made about game- changing architecture. You may find it ugly and surreal and yet I find it remarkable in its setting. As I commented, it puts Bilbao on the map, so to speak. Further, the museum is extremely popular so there is no risk there of it and its contents being under-visited!

    Certainly your view, my view and that of the wider community will be considered during the approvals process. Let’s not be dismissive or prejudge the outcome. Yes, there is work to do to make the project a success. And I am sure that whatever is delivered by David Adjaye will make the community proud at the end of the day. He is, after all, an icon in his field and so comparisons with some of the other lifeless and listless buildings nearby such as the Palace Theater and the gray medical building you mentioned will prove to be groundless.

    I look forward to seeing further details about the project in the course of time!




  • David Terrazas said:

    Hello Robert,

    I think you misunderstood my position. I am not in favor of the new design, I think it clashes with the current downtown infrastructure and design. I am not a Hamilton resident so I made the additional comment that if the powers that be were looking to start changing the current historical look to a more modern one, then this new design was a step in that direction.

    I will add in this comment, to help clarify my position, that if they were thinking about making downtown Hamilton more modern looking, then that would be a mistake. I live in the village of Clinton, NY, and if the town/village board ever tried to add this type building near the village green, it would be shot down in a heartbeat, as it should be.

    My apologies if my first post was misleading.

    Regards

    David




  • Robert Kraynak said:

    Dear Steve and David,
    I appreciate your courteous replies to my comments, but I do not think that you are making a convincing case. Take a look at all the other comments below, and you will see that four are from local citizens like me — which means all five locals are opposed to the present proposal, and your two comments are in favor. To convince us skeptics, you need to address three questions:

    1. Why should we care so much about the international prestige of ‘a very David Adjaye’ design if it is not appropriate? Your example of the Bilbao art museum by Frank Gehry hurts your case, since that design is really an ugly, surreal monstrosity that people gawk at but hardly feel welcome to use and to enjoy on a daily basis. Let’ s set aside the prestige issue, and look at the merits of the design.
    2. How can you say that the proposal ‘fits’ the village architecture? I am not even sure that it will pass the SEQR ‘environmental aesthetics’ review, since it is so out of tune with the local environment. This is especially true of the Madison St. section which will house the Picker collection — it stands next to the building where the Peppermill shops are located, and it looks like it was dropped from some alien planet. Surely, you are being ironic when you say this fits: what you mean is precisely the opposite: it is a jarring contrast intended to shake the sleepy village out its 19th century Victorian brick cocoon, and its aim is to make us into enlightened modernists!
    2. On the merits, the designs are not attractive: they resemble a kind of 1950′s rigid modernism — vertical spindles everywhere, like prison bars, boxy, and the Madison street building is like a cubical dungeon. The local people will never really warm up to these designs, although they may fatalistically live with them as alien impositions.
    My conclusion: We welcome a new arts and cultural center, and the three sections seems OK; but let’s ask for a new design proposal that has something more open, warmer, more like the surroundings. Why are you so opposed to some tinkering and revisions?




  • Steve Solomon '76, MAT '78 said:

    Dear Prof. Kraynak,

    I too remain confident in the Board’s vision as articulated by David Adjaye who is, after all, world renowned and expert in satisfying the most demanding patrons and requirements.

    Further, this is a cultural and arts center project which puts Hamilton on the map for the scope of its design and what it offers our collectons. Yes, it’s ambitious and innovative. Imagine if Bilbao had failed to embrace the design of Frank Gehry for its Guggenheim museum! It’s daring, innovative and hugely popular because it is so captivating and surprising in its particular setting.

    When discussing Adjaye delivering three buildings between Madison and Utica streets with the only change to the current landscape that of the replacement of the former Parry’s store (a car repair garage when I was a student), we are in a new place, well “away” from the Palace Theater. Very good!




  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    Dear Prof. Kraynak,

    I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this building, once it is completed. Adjaye is one of the most elegant architectural designers we have right now. In a previous post, you suggested that “good taste” be a criterion for what Colgate and the Village builds. But as you may recall, Henry Russell Hitchcock, the dean of American architectural historians, once said that “good taste” is but a negative criterion for architecture. Actually, there’s more than enough finesse in this design, and contextualism too, to assure that this building shall be an excellent fit for both Colgate and the Village of Hamilton.




  • Robert Kraynak said:

    I am a long-time resident of the village who does a lot of walking and observing in the area, and I find the proposed design to be a poor fit with the downtown architecture. It is too modern, too rigid, and too much like the medical building on Eaton street which most people refer to as the ‘dungeon’ for its dark, fortress-like, cubic design. We should ask Mr. Adjaye to submit a new proposal that offers an alternative vision. There are other examples like the Palace Theatre or Case-Geyer Library that nicely combine the modern and traditional styles. Many village residents like myself feel we are being steam-rolled by an arrogant Board that wants to tell us locals what the latest cosmpolitan styles dictate — forgetting that this is Hamilton not Manhattan or London. What happens if they build a building and no one comes because it is cold, sterile, and alien to local life and tastes? Think again, and give us a new proposal that shows some respect for us local citizens.




  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    The design of the new museum is superb. It’s “very David Adjaye” too, that is, sophisticated and playful at the same time. His choice of color for the façade will support his contextual conceptualization of the project. I’ll bet it will “fit right in” in the Village. Both Colgate and the Village of Hamilton now have the greater task of bringing this integrated arts center to life.




  • michael demarrais said:

    The match book retro 1950′s look does not fit the down town area. A unique modern look might or might not work. However the basic square functional design (for an art gallery) in an area of unique 1890-1900 buildings is not asthetically correct




  • David said:

    I really think this new design is too modern for keeping the traditional look of the downtown village and the Colgate campus in Hamilton. It just looks totally out of place, especially with all the vertical line clashing with the horizontal brick work of the older surrounding architecture.

    But if the long term goal is to move away from the historical look of downtown Hamilton, then I would say this is a step in that direction. Whether that is a right or wrong step for Hamilton is another question…..




  • Hamilton Resident said:

    I feel the design of the structure does not fit in at all with the architecture of the downtown area




  • Steve Solomon '76, MAT '78 said:

    This design concept is magnificent! It’s clever, light, respectful to its surroundings, functional and sorely needed.

    What a terrific use of space on land which is literally lost on Colgate students and Hamilton residents. Who knew that there was a possibility of redevelopment on such a scale?

    Here is a project that will do justice to Colgate’s collections in spaces worthy of them while increasing access for all. And it will put Hamilton on the map for art and cultural tourists which will be a boon to village cafes, retailers and the Inn.

    Let’s all get behind this enterprise and support the team of visionary trustees, Colgate and village administrators who will make this game changer a reality.




  • John Malona said:

    I can only imagine the final vote of the Board on this design. Each looking at their watch (iphones?), making sure they have time to get to what ever conveyance they have arranged to leave Hamilton and get back to their more pressing responsibilities. Each stifling the doubt regarding whether or not it is such a good idea to lay three amateurish mid-century looking droppings in the middle of our beloved Hamilton.

    I can imagine each of them, forgetting about the fact that in another time and place, they would be the very ones crusading against this sort of whole-sale bulldozing of a charming town center to install another forgettable boondoggle. I can see them, in their minds, shutting out the vision of how these miserable monoliths will look in 50 years time, more dim and dull and characterless than even the most derelict of Hamilton properties to date. I can hear them casting their “YEA” vote over the Tell Tale Heart beat of “THIS IS YOUR DANA HALL” ringing in their ears.

    I forgive them, they are busy people, and can’t be expected to understand why we love this school and town. They have the best intentions, and are aware that momentum behind any idea, good or bad, is a powerful thing. They must, also, be willing to consider that they might be making the absolute wrong choice. We all benefited from that advice on the hill, so should they.