Purdue Daytrip August 2009

new car

I had been planning on a day trip all summer, but house projects, recovery from the passing of my cat Isis, and the adaptation of my new cat Thyme (Isis' sister) compelled me to postpone the trip.

Now comes the last vacation of the summer, and I was bound to make this trip to try out a long-distance drive in my new car, the 2009 Honda Fit. The new car is about the size of the old, but is silver in color and has more features (and surely more glass) than the Ford Aspire, with which I made my last day trips and which I had to trade in because it had become too pricey to maintain.

Campus map with walking route

the trip there

Before leaving town, I put some gas in the car at the Village Pantry on Main and Eighth — a dicey thing to do, since the pumps there have a rep of not recording the gas they pump out, and the store itself calls the cops on even the suspicion that you stole gas from them.

The trip there was okay, especially after I discovered a Lafayette radio station, 95.3 Bob FM, that plays music from the 1980's and 1990's without the speeding of the songs' tempo to fit in more advertisements — the bane of all the radio stations in my area except public radio IPR and crap radio WLBC.

I did not have any trouble this time in getting a parking permit, or in getting the girl across the counter to understand where I normally park (the garage on Wood and Grant across from the Yong Graduate Flats), even though the parking office was crowded with students getting their permits now to save themselves trouble two weeks hence, when the Fall Semester begins.

part ½: university bookstore

My first stop was the University Bookstore. Normally I would spend more time there, but I could not think of anything I wanted to buy there, except the one-subject Rolling Rock notebooks available only at the Bookstore. The store has a selection of O'Reilly books, but this time around it was meager. I was all of twenty minutes in there before leaving.

part 1: the walk to the mall

First, I should explain that a hall in the academic sense is not only a corridor but a building with classrooms and laboratories, usually named after an important academic, administrator or alumnus. Being a major engineering college, Purdue has lots of them, most of which are grouped around vast walkways called malls

Mini-Mall between Brown and Heavilon Halls

I walked along Grant Street past the front of the Student Union until I reached Grissom Hall. Then I walked right at the ΑΠΜ key and turned another corner to find a mini-mall between the Brown and Heavilon Halls.

You can tell which of the two buildings is newer than the other. The newer has more concrete in its build than bricks. This makes the building a lot uglier, but the architects were probably too blinded by Wrightism to notice. But the mini-mall between the building, with its geometicall brick/concrete and shade trees, looks nice enough.

Alchemical Symbols in Detail over Entrance to Wetherill Hall

At the end of the mall is Wetherill Hall, the chemistry building. It was meant to be the chemistry building by the detail over the door, which are alchemical symbols for, in order: gold, copper, lead, silver, tin, mercury and iron.

Exhibit in Potter Hall

I went under the connecting walkway between Wetherill and Brown Halls towards another institutional-looking building, Potter Hall. I went inside to be greeted by an exhibit of old machines, such as da Vinci's helicopter and the first machine lathe, which presaged the industrial revolution. Further inside, in front of the Engineering Library, was another exhibit, a series of vacuum tubes, some interconnected, evidently filled with neon gas. Nearby is a mockup of a experiment payload launched with the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. At the other end of the hall was a giant aerial photo of Purdue as it was in 1964-65. The campus was perfectly unrecognizable.

The back of the hall opened to a roundish pavement filled with people walking about or standing around in a bored and somewhat suspicious manner, as the noon bell rang from the nearby Tower. I decided to go north by east on a path that led me to the Purdue Mall. There I walked to the its Fountain, which (unlike my last visit) is working wonderfully.

Purdue Fountain

I went north along the Stadium Mall until I reached a place that was still being built the last time I was on campus: Armstrong Hall.

part 2: armstrong hall

North Side of Armstrong Hall with Statue

The Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering was built in the mid-2000's to be the new main office of the Engineering School as well as the home of its Aeronautics/Astronautics, Materials Science, and Engineering Education faculties as well as some other offices. The glass, steel and brick edifice makes an imposive sight over the intersection of Stadium and Northwestern Avenues. In front of the main north door stands a statue of Neil Armstrong, Purdue alumnus and first human being to set foot on the moon. Indeed, concrete images of his booted footsteps on the lunar surface are depicted in the grass next to the sidewalk near the statue.

Replica of Apollo 1 Capsule

The north entrance to the Hall opens into a vast triangular lobby, the centerpiece of which is a replica of the command capsule of Apollo 1, whose crew were killed in an electrical fire inside the capsule during a training exercise. Through a long window, I could see workers setting up equipment: Evidently the building is done, but the labs are not.

In the basement floor is a café, one of whose walls is a long glass window, on the other side of which is another laboratory called a "demonstration studio". There are other labs in the basement: Some, like the Artisan Lab, look like a high school vocational shop; others, like the AAE/MSE Research Lab, look more promising. At the end was a staircase, under which is one of the sore points in modern architecture: wasted space, in this case a space big enough to hold a class in.

Amelia Airhound

I was back in the first floor. A couple of the offices had statues of dogs. They were the same dog, except that each had a different theme. The dog in the picture is dressed as Amelia Earhart (who used to work at Purdue); indeed, the statue's name is 'Amelia Airhound'! The dogs are part of a series of fiberglass statues that were supposed to be scattered throughout metro Lafayette this summer. It is telling that the dogs must be displayed indoors in places where an eye can be kept on them because several of the statues were vandalized or stolen.

Interactive Engineering Lab

I finally made it to the west entrance of the Hall, where there is a much smaller lobby with an interactive lab along one wall. I tried out one of the experiments, pointed to by the white arrow, in which I turned a two-handled crank to generate electricity. The experiment was to compare human power to wind power. I cranked out a consistent 30 watts in 30 seconds.

part 3: the walk south

I walked back down Stadium Mall, made a turn at the Schleman Hall (with its bust of Galen over the door), crossed a parking lot, and walked along a building that turned out to be the Armory. This is where the armed forces have their ROTC programs. Purdue is not at all hostile to the military, as the East Coast colleges are; yet, the building looks really run down. And its most recent (= late 1980's) addition, a flagpole, has no flag on it.

My visit to Lawson Hall was pretty much the same as last year: The Giant Washer Kiosk on the first floor; the third-floor terrace with its view of the intersection of Third and University Streets with the old Computer Science building on the other side and the Tower in the distance; and the now much diminished exhibit of old computer components and media in the hall opposite the terrace.

A Cubical Brick Apartment Block Covered in Ivy.

I walked out the back of the Hall and walked south down Waldron Avenue, also called Fraternity Way due to the majority of houses on the street being the homes of the Greek-letter social fraterities. One of the buildings that was not was a perfect cube of brick, whose whole front and much of its sides were covered in ivy. It was rather amazing.

Waldron ended at State Road 26 (State Street) with religious houses around it: Christian, Jewish and Mormon. I did not feel like going around the west side of the giant Lily bioscience hall, so I walked on its east side until I found myself in the shaded walks around the Hansen Biology Hall. I walked further on until I reached the Horticultural Gardens.

part 4: the gardens

Horticultural Gardens 1 Horticultural Gardens 2 Horticultural Gardens 3 Horticultural Gardens 4 Horticultural Gardens 5

Purdue does a good thing working on these gardens with their floral riot of all kinds of colors and finding new ways to keep them in flower. I basically walked about and took pictures. Some of those pictures I would later print out, compile in a report folder, and give them to Madre for her appreciation. After resting there for fifteen minutes, I walked on.

part 5: the long tunnel, and lunch

I walked about and in time reached the service entrance to the Hawkins Hall dormitory, which is the start of the Long Tunnel. This connects the dormitories south of State Street with the Purdue Union. At the very end of the tunnel is the eateries mall in the Union — in particular, this eatery, Pappy's.

And at the End of a Long Tunnel Is Lunch.

After a lunch of cheeseburger, fries and milk shake (the soda fountain was broken), I decided to end my walking tour and to head to Von's.

part 6: von's

Von's, in the Purdue Village of stores and restaurants, is a series of shops that sell not only books (old and new) but also all sorts of rocks, both raw and polished; beads and necklaces; incense; plush dolls; comic books, DVDs and music CDs. I spent some time in the comics area, but could not find what I wanted. I spent more time in the books section, in the end buying a half-dozen books.

the trip back

The trip back was uneventful, except that I could not find the SAS store I wanted to visit because I was too busy navigating through the construction activity and the rush-hour traffic. I returned at around seven in the evening. I found that I consumed only a quarter-tank of gas for the 180-mile round trip.

Written by Andy West on 7 August 2009.