By Anne Johnson
In the first installment of a new lecture series, Duncan G. Stroik, an architect and professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, made a case for campus architecture as representative of a university’s educational mission.
Stroik’s March 26 lecture at the University of Dallas marks the first of a lecture series initiated by the Alex Galbraith family.
“[The lecture series is] a great opportunity to share the joy of learning and hopefully to spark that love for learning and to facilitate the conversation that I experienced at UD,” said the Galbraiths’ daughter Alison, who graduated from UD with a degree in English in 2012.
Inspired by the ideals of the Core and Western civilization, the Galbraiths established the series to bring to campus speakers who will speak about things that will appeal to UD students.
Stroik illustrated the development of campus architecture, demonstrating its Western foundations and the influence of the Catholic Church on architectural values.
“UD does have a very classical approach to education, to learning how to structure the mind,” senior Johnny Defilippis reflected. “I think with Duncan Stroik his tradition is acknowledging that there’s something permanent outside of ourselves.”
Stroik also displayed some of his own projects. While his architectural style contains contemporary appeal, his designs show a revival of classical elements.
“Duncan Stroik is not just a scholar but someone who’s a visionary,” Alex Galbraith observed. “He doesn’t subscribe to the view that if you believe in Western civilization, then you have to imitate what has been done 500 years ago. He has this desire to take the good, the beautiful, the true, these objects of architecture grounded in faith and philosophy and Western civilization thought, and take those different elements that have endured over time, and then put them to use, in another view.”
Stroik said that on many college campuses, the building of one classical building elevates expectations for future building projects. Stroik, who designed a traditional chapel at Thomas Aquinas College, explained that the beauty of the church led the students to demand similar buildings for their classrooms and dormitories. This phenomenon resonated with Defilippis.
“The church is a doorway to the rest of the world,” he reflected.
Junior Sarah Cosgray said that the subject of architectural beauty closely relates to the foundations of Western thought and to the Catholic identity of the university.
“I feel like architecture and art are a gift from God for a reason, because they’re his means of communicating his beauty to us,” she said. “It helps us grow in our faith, seeing these beautiful things and being inspired and in awe of these beautiful things.”
These connections to the university’s identity and the Core are the sorts of thoughts that the Galbraiths said they hope all the lectures will provoke. The Galbraiths also said they hope the lectures will strengthen the bond between alumni and the university by providing an opportunity for local alumni to come back to the university and continue their education.
“Whoever the next person is, he will be someone who has the ability to express himself in a way that stirs the imagination of the students,” Alex Galbraith said.