You may be wondering about that building on the corner of South Thayer and Washington. No, not the Modern Languages Building – the one under construction across the street. Though its presence is obvious, it is difficult to tell exactly what this structure is for. Named the 202 South Thayer Building and designed by Diamond & Schmitt Architects, Inc. of Toronto, it is the future home of LSA’s Asian languages & culture, Near Eastern Studies and the Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies as well as the Humanities Institute.
Nearly completed and scheduled to be opened this spring, the building looks great. The four major vertical geometries protrude from the building’s mass in non-uniform and asymmetrical disarray, yet appear to be in perfect balance and proportion. Crisp, clean lines accent these columns and add to the elegance of the building’s aesthetic. Concrete panels provide the structure’s mass while glass cuts through those monolithic blocks and adds a compliment of airiness that allows the building to float above the ground. The design is graceful enough to look chic, but it is also graceful enough to blend into oblivion.
Diamond & Schmitt’s design is not fully to blame for the lack of attention the building receives. In fact, it’s a compliment to the architects that the structure fits very well within its context and matches the surrounding buildings’ heights and shapes remarkably well. Perhaps the building is being overlooked purely because during this summer, the nearby Frieze Building will be demolished to make way for the new North Quad Residence Hall. After all, not every campus building can be glamorous. Housing so few and non-publicized programs may also attribute to the building’s severe lack of hype. Even its name, 202 South Thayer Building, indicates obscurity. I cannot think of any other University building that does not have a name. Then again, it doesn’t really look like a University building, and that is exactly the problem.
With a design that consists solely on shapes, the Thayer Building could be an office building just as much as it could be part of the University. The sleek fa