Our beloved University of Dallas has a new building! Finally, the incessant noise just outside the Cap Bar has subsided and we can see the finished product. But tall trees catch much wind, and Cardinal Farrell Hall is no exception.
It’s not surprising that the new administration building has had a less than friendly reception. There has been, in recent semesters, a buildup of frustration in the student body. Some of this frustration, in need of an object, has latched on to the new building.
I, on the other hand, like Cardinal Farrell Hall and think it could be a significant contribution to our campus. Though it’s modern , that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Politics aside, the building itself, is pleasant to look at and designed with deliberate attention to the University of Dallas identity.
It is immediately apparent when you look at Cardinal Farrell Hall that it includes elements of the UD Rome campus. The lecture steps, walking area, and white columns are deliberately reminiscent of Rome. I think it is appropriate that the Rome semester, which is an integral element of the UD education, is represented in the architecture on our main campus. I’m looking forward to grabbing a drink at the Cap Bar and stepping outside to sit on the big steps and read.
Furthermore, the new building does a good job of defining space. The Mall is and always has been the primary public space on campus for two reasons: It is a midway-point between classrooms, and so gets a lot of foot traffic, and because it is a well-defined space. The Mall is framed by buildings, decorated with landscaping, and outlined by a paved walkway.
A crucial function of a building is to make the area around it pleasant by defining spatial structures. Cardinal Farrell Hall has turned what was once an empty, unused space into an extension of the Mall. Since it is populated by Cap Bar customers rather than students who have only a minute or two before class, it can be a more relaxed place to be with friends.
There is, I think, only one significant barrier to Cardinal Farrell Hall contributing significantly to our campus life: negative public opinion. A building can’t improve a public space if the public insists on disliking and criticising it. UD, for all its virtues, often has difficulty embracing new things, and it is easier to point out what you dislike about something than what you value about it. I hope that we as students learn to love the new building and appreciate what it does for our campus.