“Things have certainly changed around here. I remember when this was all farmland as far as the eye could see. Old man Peabody owned all of this. He had this crazy idea about breeding pine trees.” Doc Emmet Brown (Back to the Future, 1985)
One of my favorite movies is Back to the Future. I’ve watched it more times than I can count. The movie is solid on all ways in my eyes. One of the things that I find intriguing about it is the way things have changed over time in terms of buildings and landscapes as the movie goes back and forward in time. I’ve reached the point in life where things have changed over time, in some cases several times over. The big things like buildings being demolished and replaced are easy to see. The subtle changes are what sometimes get missed. Hence today’s post – a comparison of a place at Texas Tech over the course of 25 years.
I first visited Tech in June 1996. I was there to locate an apartment for my impending doctoral studies. A place I visited during that trip was my future academic home in the Human Sciences Building. The Human Sciences Building is actually several buildings in one, the newer parts being added to the old over the years. In the center of the building, a spot behind the original structure built in 1925 and an addition completed in 1973, is a lounge and gathering area appropriately named El Centro. I have spent a fair amount of time sitting in El Centro and have attended many functions there. After completing my doctoral studies, it was a number of years before I got back there. In today’s post, I compare El Centro as it was in 1996 to the way it looked in 2019. The differences are subtle in most respects with one notable difference. Things I would have thought would change didn’t, or didn’t do so dramatically, and something I would have not thought would change did.
First up are two photos of the west wall of the area (albeit from two different perspectives). The first photo is from 1996, the second from 2019. The awnings have been replaced, and although I appreciate the new ones being in the university's colors (Red and Black), I have to say I prefer the older ones better. The windows one the ground level are to a conference room and on the second level to offices. Sure, the green and white ones on the sides looks dated, but the design and font seems more fitting to me than the new. Gone are the fake plants (no loss) and the televisions on the wall (there were tv's on either side of the wall). The rugs have changed, but the furniture is the same. The cushions have either been re-dyed or are are new. I like the black in the new, but would have liked to have seen all of them, stools included, changed as well.
Next are two photos of the north wall. The banner is gone and the wall has been painted. The memorial case is still there, but the plaques are gone and the arrangement has been tidied up. The pink was very 1990's. I wonder what happened to the plaques. A few years back, we cleaned out some storage for my department here at the University of Memphis and found a box of old plaques - annual awards we had stopped giving, best students, etc. I thought it was terrible they were put away and forgotten. A bigger difference is the change in the windows above the sign (now letters afixed to the wall). Those windows look into a hallway on the second floor. In the first photo from 1996, there is only one row of windows. In the second, from 2019, there are two.
The biggest change, and one I did not expect, was the ceiling. In the first photo below from 1996, you can see banners representing the departments of the college. The notable change is the removal of the false skylights in the ceiling clearly evident in this photo. Meant to be resemble skylights (there is a solid roof above), the fluorescent lights added greatly to the space in my opinion, giving it a warm, bright, and open feel. In the second photo from 2019 these have been removed. Perhaps they were in rough shape or too difficult to service. Their removal obviously changed the ceiling and I imagine that resulted in the window change noted above. The artwork is a piece called "Primoridal Garden" by artist Adela Andea. The piece was installed in 2016, three years prior to my visit in 2019.
One thing that changed, but for which I have no 1996 photo, is the west side of El Centro which is the door of a classroom. When I was there, the classroom was open to all departments and was not named, but as you can see here, it is now a technology room sponsored by a donor. The planters on either side are the same, but the colors have changed. I believe they were green when I was there, but now they are black.
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University Grounds is a blog about college and university campuses, their buildings and grounds, and the people who live and work on them.
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