Humanities

Carl Schinke '93, MS '96

I’m curious to know about the background of the Humanities building. I have heard a few legends about why it is such a maze. Two that come to mind are: the foundation was laid with the architectural plans upside down, and that it was built to withstand grenades or other explosives. What is the real reason, if there is one?

Abe

Construction of the humanities building (now called the George L. Mosse Humanities Building), a 532-by-164 foot, seven-story block of concrete and lannon stone, began on May 17, 1966. This three-year project was originally planned for completion in August 1968, but because of labor strikes and shortages, the building didn’t open until September 1969.

The original plan began as three separate buildings that would house the history, music and art departments. But in 1962, the building committee proposed that all three buildings be constructed as one.
It was at this phase that the architects and contractors ran into a number of problems. When the planning was finally complete, only one contractor was bidding on the project. Unfortunately, that bid was two million dollars over budget, so the building committee was forced to make changes to building’s architecture in an effort to make construction cheaper.

It seems that these budget cuts are partly to blame for the building’s unattractiveness. While the humanities building was constructed to create more room for the history, music and art departments, the final version was constructed as a compromised approach to the original plans of architect Harry Weese.

To this day, there continue to be sound problems between the music and history department areas, and the art department contends with space and ventilation issues.