Purdue Daytrip July 2008

the trip there

I planned to take off at seven in the morning. Seven was when I forced myself out of bed, and I started off at 8:30 a.m.

State Road 26 was half-blocked at its intersection with State Road 37 (which was being repaved) and under construction itself in Clinton County. I had to take county roads around the construction on my way there, and detoured to State Road 22 on my way back.

Campus map with walking route

I parked in a more centrally located Northwestern Avenue Garage after I bought a day parking sticker at the visitor center on the first floor. Usually I would have parked in the Wood Street Garage on the south side of campus, a habit from my days when I was looking for a job at Purdue.

The map at left shows the winding path I took on my walking tour of the campus. The tour is marked by red arrows, which break off where I walked under (MATH) or through (HAAS, UNIV) a building. The only exception is the purple arrow where I walked the Long Hall; that path is not really straight, but I have no idea of orientation while I am in the tunnel.

part 1: university bookstore

First I visited the University Bookstore, where I bought a Purdue T-shirt to replace the one I was wearing (it is several years old and showing its age). I also bought some Rolling Rock one-subject notebooks, one of which I used to record my day trip. I also bought two books, one on Samba, the other on Information Architecture for the Web, both in their third editions. I also skimmed a book called Who Hates Whom on current wars and guerrilla activity.

part 2: daytrip proper

I took the path marked in red on the campus map. It is a winding path that led me through the central and south parts of the campus, then under the campus to the Student Union.

Purdue is undergoing a lot of construction in its main campus. There are fences, trailers, trenches and piles of dirt everywhere. The construction is inhibiting the flow of water to much of the campus. The parking garage itself needed its water supplied by fire hose through some sort of filter labeled Well Placed. (Cute.)

purdue mall and tower

Purdue Mall

The Purdue Mall used to be plainly visible from Northwestern Avenue. The view is now blocked by three buildings, one of which blocks most of the end of the Mall facing the street. The building arches over two gaps before connecting to the two buildings on either side. The Mall is enclosed by buildings old and new. In this picture, you see the fountain and, beyond it, the administration hall. The hall is like Ball State's admin building, only bigger. It used to be a lot uglier in the days when my sisters were students. It must have been remodelled inside and out.

I did not take a picture of the fountain upclose this time, partly because the water was shut off, and partly because kids of all ages were climbing all over the fountain.

Purdue University Bell Tower

The Tower is one of the reasons Ball State got its own. But while Ball State's Shafer Tower is about the same height, its bells are bigger. There is a pond nearby, but the water was stagnant.

It was noon when I passed the Tower. It went di da di BONG, di da di da——— before chiming twelve times. This was followed by a crazier ringing further down the Centennial Mall.

founders park area

Spirit Arch Sculpture

A Spirit Arch stands on the east side of a building called Stanley Coulter Hall, which houses the foreign languages department. The hall itself is almost completely surrounded by construction fencing. The Arch is about the only side of the building not fenced in, but you can still see the chain-link fencing in back.

University Hall is one of the campus' oldest buildings, built in 1877. You can tell just how Victorian it looks from the picture; it looks like some of the older houses in the bigger towns like Marion. It is across the street from an equally old three-tier fountain with metal lilies on top.

A more modern building hides behind the University Hall. This was erected to keep the non-engineering, non-sciencist contingent of the campus happy. It houses the liberal arts and education departments. It also has its own sculpture; but since it resembles an androgynous cheeky behind with a big crack, I have chosen not to photograph it.

The Math Building is a sterile pile of brick and concrete in the so-called International style. That is why it sucks. I only mention it because I had to pass under it to get to the next building.

Felix Haas Hall

This Arts and Crafts style building was once the home of the computer science department. The department quickly outgrew it, but it was still stuck there until the new Lawson Computer Science building was completed a couple of years ago. As you can tell from the engraving, it was originally a gymnasium built to commemorate an athletic team killed in a passenger train wreck. The University has renamed the building Felix Haas and housed the statistics department inside. But since the engraving is too deep to be sandblasted off, it will likely be called Memorial Gymnasium for some time to come.

computer science building

Lawson Computer Science Hall

It took a long time for the Computer Science department to secure the funding from private sources to construct this building. The site, a former gravel-paved parking lot, had been selected and the plans drawn up years before there was enough money for construction.

Lawson Computer Science Hall

This looks like one of those washers you secure the wheels of wagons or soap-box racers with. In fact it is a sculpture that doubles as an information kiosk. Nearby is a smoothie bar selling a brand of drinks named Açai.

Lawson Computer Science Hall

This is the faculty meeting room on the third floor: Room 3102. It is equipped similarly to one of the classrooms in the Bracken Library, except that the amenities are newer and the faculty would have to bring their own computers. And the chairs are firmer but more comfortable.

I found a display near the far end of the hall on the third floor. (Yeah, it would be kind of silly to take a picture of that.) It held a motherboard with a Cyrix 686 processor, Award BIOS and a couple of ISA slots. Yes, it was that old, probably from the late 1990's. Beside it was a Creative Labs video card; this was the heyday of Creative Labs, when it was de rigueur in audio cards and evidently branching out. On a glass shelf above them was a history of storage: floppy disk (1.44 MB), ZIP disk (100 MB), tape cartridge (600 MB) and Western Digital Caviar 32500 (25 GB).

Lawson Computer Science Hall

The view from the third floor terrace, facing the Tower. I got a good view of the construction around the gymnasium. It was almost one o'clock by this time, because the ladies I interrupted to take this picture had to go back to work.

The new CS building has this high lobby, where CS students go to study and to drink their smoothies. On one of the walls was a tall poster of the recent CS graduates, some congratuated by Tom Edison himself. Yes, it is amazing what the Purdue CS faculty can do.

the walk south

This is some metal hex mark embedded in the concrete of the sidewalk as I was walking down University Street. Oh, wait, it's the Triangle fraterntiy. I remember that from my only year at Rose-Hulman. (Never mind.)

State Street: It's like Univesity Avenue back at Ball State. Except it is busier. A lot busier. Why? It is a state road (26). And I would not have been able to cross it at all except at its intersection with Grant Street if it were not summer.

I walked around the hugh life sciences building, and found myself walking past row after row of greenhouses, which were either empty or full of flowers or crops. In the midst of them was this a brick wall with yellow lilies at the base. The lilies looked rather ratty, so I did not take a picture of them.

agriculture mall area

Keys: These are small metal (usually bronze) statuettes in the form of the lapel pins worn by members of professional societies. These societies, one or two for each profession, sport Greek letters like the social fraternities. Their general shape is a vertical bar with a ring on top, on the middle of which is the emblem of the society. There are a lot of them in the Purdue Mall area as well as the Agriculture Mall I reached at this point.

The life applied sciences building is heavily forested in front. It makes for a nice spot to rest.


Your guess would be as good as mine about what that statue is, if it weren't for the plaque in front of it: Transformation. But what is it transforming into? A hand and arm? A paper towel roll flayed at one end? Whatever!

Pao Hall was not quite finished during my last visit. Now it is complete. And it is still unpleasant to look at. What is it with Purdue and the International style? Don't they know ugly when they see it?

Horticulutral Garden Horticulutral Garden

Here are two views of the horticultural garden near the Big Iron Hand.

Veterinarian School Statuary Cat Statue

I just had to backtrack and find the veterinarian school, to find the sculpture set in front. And here it is. Three of the statues (horse, pig and cat) show the animals' internals. The cat shows the nervous system: The main system along the back, and sympathetic system below that. I just managed to escape some rowdy vet students clowning around the statues (one, I think, had mounted on top of the house as I was leaving).

The Long Hall

The Long Hall extends from the loading dock of the graduate student hall all the way to the student union. It is still a rough walk for tired feet, but at least it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I was hungry as well as foot-sore. It just happened that, as I was approaching the end of the Long Hall where it meets with the Student Union, there was this menu on the wall opposite the door.

The menu was for Pappy's, an eatery themed like a 1950's diner. I ordered a triple cheeseburger and French fries. The food was pretty good. After I ate, I found my way out of the Union and went straight to Von's.

part 3: von's


Von's is a shopping complex in the Purdue University Village. The complex, inside an old building, sells books of all kinds, beads, polished rocks, stuffed dolls, comics, videos and (to a now much lesser extent) music CDs. It also has a standalone student/sports bar on the west side of the building.

I spent an agreeable hour in the store. The only problem I had was when I could not find the comics section, which was among the used books in the basement. I discovered the comics were moved to the section where the CDs used to be. There are still CDs, but they take up only a corner of that section when they used to take up all of it. Evidently MP3s and iTunes have eroded the need for CDs; and Von's does change with the times.

For all the time I spent looking for the comics, I bought only two graphic novels, and those to match one I already had. I also bought a book on Japanese asthetics, a book on Japanese grammar and usage in the style of the defunct magazine Mangajin, by the guy who translated for Mangajin, but published years after the magazine folded. I also got a book called The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, an irreverant career guide in a manga style.

By the time I got out of Von's and back in my car, it was past six o'clock and time to return home.

the trip back

Construction on State Road 26 forced me to detour onto State Road 29 to Burlington, then take State Road 22 to Kokomo because heading back to 26.

Written by Andy West on 11 July 2008.