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Surprisingly Staid

I’m back from the Construction History Society of America meeting – more about that soon – held on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After four days on campus, I still can’t tell you exactly where the boundary between the two towns is, as the campus layout completely ignores it. I was told it’s Wright Street, but that street is discontinuous and doesn’t exist for a good stretch of the school.

The picture above is the State Farm Center, built in 1963 as Assembly Hall. It’s the school’s basketball arena, among other uses. It was designed by Max Abramovitz, a UIUC alumnus, and partner in Harrison & Abramovitz, a New York-based form that did a lot of work in New York City. I’m reasonably familiar with the work of Harrison & Abramovitz, and I was a bit surprised to hear that this arena was one of their buildings, as it doesn’t look like the cover of a 1960s pulpscience-fiction magazine. The last of those links is the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, which we are currently working on with Theo Prudon.

Perhaps this means that Wallace Harrison was the partner who liked weird futuristic stuff; perhaps it means Abramovitz wanted something less weird for his alma mater.