Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BYU Now and Then

Between the 50's and the 70's, BYU went through a big construction boom.  A year ago, I took several pictures of these buildings.  Truthfully, I don't find their architecture very interesting or really care for the stories involving the buildings, but I thought that I would at least include the photos because they are somewhat interesting to see how they have changed.  Here they are:

The following building is the (George Albert) Smith Fieldhouse.  The building was originally constructed in 1951.  Inside is a 5,000 seat arena (which is where volleyball teams play), a running track, several offices and the student gym (which is really quite pathetic, although I have heard that it has improved dramatically in the past few years).  Additions were added to the building during the early 60's.  The pictures are what it looked like in 1964 and what it looks like today (which unfortunately involves a large tree in front of where the previous picture was taken)

Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

The David O. McKay building was constructed in 1954.  It is the home for mostly the education department.  The picture below stated that it was from 1970, although it looks like it is David O. McKay in the picture who died early in 1970, so most likely it was taken before that time.

Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

The Centennial Carillon Tower was built in 1975.  It houses 52 bells, which play "Come, Come Ye Saints" on the hour, in addition to at other times when individuals go play songs.  I have heard that the flood lights are great places to roast marshmallows, although watch out because the campus police do not like it.  Below is the picture of the tower before it was built and what it currently looks like.

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

The Talmage building was built in 1971 and houses the math department.  Unfortunately for BYU, the Talamge Building at the University of Utah looks much better (James E. Talmage, although he studied at Brigham Young Academy and even had Karl G. Maeser as a teacher, eventually became the president of the University of Utah, although at the time it was University of Deseret).  Below is a picture from 1974.

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

Below is a picture from 1970 of the property which would eventually become the Marriott Center.  Despite it being quite uncomfortable for anyone taller than 5' 9", with over 22,000 seats it is currently the third largest on campus arena in the country, although at one time it was the largest.  I once heard a rumor that students used to call it the Big Mac, but students were told to stop calling it that because its namesake, the Marriotts (who I am guessing financed a lot of the building) owned some company that competed directly with McDonalds (possibly Burger King, if I remember the rumor right).  As a result, they didn't want something they funded being named after the product of a rival company.  Recently BYU announced that it was going to renovate the Marriott Center, changing some of the bench seats into actual seats and redoing both of the locker rooms.

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

In the 1960's and 70's, BYU embarked on a large residential project named Deseret Towers.  Several towers were built on 900 East.  The buildings slowly fell out of style and due to high costs of keeping them functioning, BYU recently decided to demolish the buildings in favor of building new dormitories for students.  I have heard that Helaman Halls, the dorms just to the south of Deseret Towers, are going to suffer the same fate.  From what I have been told, Helaman Halls will eventually be demolished in favor of construction the same type of dorms that are being built where Deseret Towers stood.  The following picture is what they looked like in 1965, and following is what the construction looked like a year ago and what the current dorms look like.

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Study Geology

When I think of the Eyring Science Center (ESC), I usually think of something that my geology professor said on the first day of class (which is the only class I ever had in the ESC and this memory is pretty much the only thing I remember about the class, besides that the limestone in Rock Canyon is called great blue limestone). She said that when she finally decided that she was going to study geology, she talked about it with her bishop, which is the Mormon version of a priest of a pastor.  When she told him, he essentially looked at her and told her that it was a horrible idea, because geologist are full of crap since the Earth is only 8,000 years old, not the millions that geologist claim.  She was heart broken and began to cry.  However, she followed her dream and became a geologist.

The Eyring Science Center is the main science building on BYU campus.  It is named after Carl F. Eyring who believed (contrary to my teacher's bishop) that science and religion can exist harmoniously.  It was constructed in 1950.  Here is a picture of it from 1949 and 1950 and what it looks like today:

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

 Courtesy of the Lee Library Archives, Brigham Young University

When the building was dedicated in 1950, it was named the Psyical Science Building and cost $2 million to build.  The large building had the same amount of floor space as the six other major buildings on campus at the time combined.  According to this article, when it was dedicated construction had not yet been completely.  It was written in the program at the dedication that "cutbacks in building material due to the war and work stoppage due to factory strikes have prevented the completion of this structure and of the furnishings by this date."  Unfortunately, Carl F. Eyring, the building's namesake, died shortly after its opening from leukemia.

The Eyring Science Center houses the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Geology, and Food Science and Nutrition. The Department of Chemistry has in the past been located at the Eyring Science Center but is not currently headquartered there.  The building is probably most well know for the pendulum in the lobby (and the other toys that are scattered throughout.  They are pretty fun) and the planetarium that was redone in 2005.  Another interesting fact is that the ESC was the first building on BYU campus to have an elevator.

The BYU planetarium website says, "The new Royden G. Derrick planetarium at BYU was completed in March of 2005, and upgraded in Aug. 2010. 
The facility is located in the Eyring Science Center on campus and is used primarily for holding University classes. However, we also provide outreach shows for community groups and weekend shows for the general public."  If you'd like more information, click here.

The pendulum court is a pretty cool place to run around and look at all of the neat exhibits (and my brother works there too).  The court used to be home to several dinosaur bones, but they were moved to the BYU Earth Science Museum.  Additionally there is a cool stream table that is found at the ESC.  There is a really well done video (great job Erik!) on youtube all about it.  You can check it out here.

One of the most interesting finds on the ESC was about different pranks that occurred in the building.  Here is what the website says: "[regarding pranks that have occurred] there was the time the Foucault pendulum ball was stolen and missing for weeks before an anonymous tip suggested they dredge the botany pond south of campus. The pendulum has been the target of other schemes, and some claim the pendulum bowl was once filled with water and fish.

"Perhaps the most infamous prank played in the Eyring Science Center involved a cat and a carillon. As a gift from four senior classes in the mid-1950s, a carillon was mounted on the roof of the ESC. The instrument played through four huge speakers, loud enough to be heard at Utah Lake on a clear day, claims Rex Arnett, then a student carillonneur.

"According to legend, someone put a cat to sleep with chloroform and placed the animal inside the locked rolltop carillon keyboard. When the cat woke up, it began walking around and playing loud, obnoxious noises in the middle of the night.

"But Arnett remembers it differently. As the one who discovered the cats (there were two), he insists it was a Sunday afternoon and the cats only made a brief disturbance. The big ruckus, he says, actually happened a few weeks later in March 1956.

"About 11:30 one Friday evening, the carillon started going berserk, remembers Arnett. As lights came on all over Provo, Arnett and a police officer struggled through several sets of doors with soldered locks. By the time they reached the carillon, the noise had been going on for more than 30 minutes. "The console was open," Arnett explains, "and there was a little Erector Set motor that had been attached to the lower part of the keyboard. It had two little arms that came around on the motor and hit two particular keys--bong bong, bong bong, bong bong."

"The incident made quite a stir at BYU and in Provo, but the pranksters were never caught, says Arnett, who graduated with a Spanish degree in 1961."

One final thing that actually isn't related to the Eyring Science Center is the International Cinema which is found in the SWKT, the tall tower just outside the entrance to the ESC.  They play some really good movies there, although I have heard that sometimes they are edited so much that you can't understand the plot.  The other problem is that occasionally the bells for the beginning and end of class ring during the middle of the movie.  But besides that it is pretty awesome and I definitely recommend it to anyone in Provo that has not been.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Which Campus Building do BYU Students Pray the most?

There is a joke on BYU campus that I heard several times while I studied there.  There are a few variants, but the gist of it is "In which campus building do BYU students pray the most?".  The answer is the Grant Building.  If you don't get it, don't worry, I didn't either the first time I heard it (mainly because I didn't know which building was the Grant Building).  The Grant Building is one of the busiest building on campus, but it is better know as the testing center.  It is the largest college testing center in the United States and the location where BYU students take almost all of their tests while at college (hence all of the praying).

I mentioned the grant building during the last post about the Brimhall Building.  The Grant Building is the building on the left in the picture of the Brimhall and the Maeser Building.  Here is an additional picture of it from 1925 and what it looks like today:

Courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University

The Grant Building, built in 1925, was originally a library.  There is an interesting history on Wikipedia about the history of the Harold B Lee Library (the current library at BYU) which includes a bit of the history of the Grant Building.  Here is what it says:

"The Harold B Lee Library began as a small collection of books kept in the office of Karl G. Maeser during his time as principal of then Brigham Young Academy.  The small library relied almost exclusively on gifts, donations, and free material from the U.S. Government.  When Maeser's office was destroyed by a fire in 1884, his library collection went with it.  By the time the Education Building was completed in 1892, a new library had been formed and a room was provided on the second floor of the new building.

"The academy later became a university, which spurred the library's growth until it filled the third floor and much of the second floor of the Education building.  In July 1924, the alumni association reported that $125,000 had been appropriated to construct a new library building to be erected on University Hill.  The new Heber J. Grant Library was subsequently dedicated on October 15, 1925 with 40,000 books and 35,000 pamphlets."

The Grant Building is somewhat small, with the first floor consisting mostly of classrooms and the second floor being a large open room (now the testing center) where the library was located.  By the 50s, the the library had outgrown itself and several little libraries were created in buildings across campus to accommodate the growing number of books.  In 1961, the J. Reuben Clark Library (which is now named the Harold B. Lee Library) was finished, which moved the library from the Grant building.

Besides being a library, the Grant Building has had several different uses.  After the library moved, it was a museum by the College of Biology and Agriculture, until it was moved to the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum (which is really cool and kind of creepy because it is filled with thousands of dead, stuffed animals, including a liger named Sheba).  For a while, the building housed the BYU Honors Program and was the first location of the BYU Faculty Center.  Currently it is home to the testing center, the Religious Studies Center and a few classrooms.  I have to say that I love the testing center.  Essentially a test is given during a specific time period.  It allows students to take the test anytime during that time period, whenever it is most convenient for them.  The actual room where students take tests is quite pretty and I really enjoyed sitting, relaxing, and looking at the architecture once I had finished a test.

For all you gentlemen that get five o'clock shadows or ladies that like to wear jeggings, the testing center can be a very stressful place because it was the primary place where the honor code was enforced.  When I started at BYU, if you were not clean shaven you were required to leave and come back when you had shaved.  It always created quite a bit of controversy.  However, a few years ago it became a National Testing Center (which means it could administer standardized tests for individuals who were not BYU students) and as a result the honor code was not enforced as strongly as it was in the past.  Currently there is just a sign and you may get a few dirty looks and a "please shave next time."

I have really enjoyed researching the buildings on BYU because there is so much interesting information that I have found on the internet about them.  Here is a bunch of extra stuff that I found about the Grant Building.  First of all, some people claim that the building is haunted.  For a nice scary story about the Grant Building, click here.  I found an interesting website with flashcards for the different building name abbreviations around campus.  If you are looking to memorize them, then click here.  Also, someone went around and took pictures of letters that are found around BYU campus in the different buildings (it actually is pretty well done).  The letters A, G, J, and O were all found at the Grant Building.  You can see all of the letters by clicking here.

Finally, I came across a interesting group of pictures of BYU, including one of the Grant Building.  I am not in love with them because they are extremely photoshopped and very saturated with color, but I'm sure that some will enjoy.  The individual that took the pictures claimed that he did so to highlight the interesting architecture around campus, which is funny because I feel like architecturally BYU is a very dull campus except for a couple of buildings (the Grant Building being one of those).  You can see the collection by clicking here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

BYU Presidents

Continuing on with the segment on BYU, I was going to try to cover three buildings today, but I found so much juicy information on a couple of them that I had to stick with just two.  Oh boy, have I got some funny things to share.

The first building on the list is the building known as the Former Presidents' House.  Here is a photo of it around 1970 and what it looks like today:

 Courtesy of Brigham Young University, Lee Library

As a little bit of reference, this building is located on the Southwest corner of campus, just north of the Maeser Building.  I had a hard time finding information about the building, other than it was the residence of previous BYU presidents.  It was built in 1925, housed VIP guests before the construction of the Hinckley Building, and currently houses some of the offices for BYU graduate studies.  And that really is all I could find.

Continuing on, the next building, the Brimhall Building, which was always a mystery to me.  In 2004, the building was remodeled and if I remember right was closed the entire year (which was my freshman year). Once it opened back up, I felt like I couldn't go in it, just because it retained that feeling of closed-ness that I felt from freshman year.  Here is a picture of what it looked like in 1938 and what it looks like today.  Just as a heads up, it is the building on the right in the 1938 picture (the building in the middle is the Maeser and the building on the left, probably my favorite, is one for next time).  Additionally, I could not replicate the picture because currently the Joseph Smith Memorial Building stands in the exact spot where the picture was previously taken.

 Courtesy of Brigham Young University, Lee Library

Courtesy of

The Brimhall was built in 1918 and is the second oldest building after the Maeser Building on BYU's current campus.  I am not totally sure, but according to this wikipedia article, it may have been built on what was previously clay tennis courts.  Originally a one story building, the second and third building were added in 1935.  At this time it was named after George H. Brimhall, the BYU president when it was built.  It originally housed the Student Army Training Corps, and later served as the mechanical arts building (essentially a fancy name for shop class).  Additionally at some point it was the BYU president's garage.  The building was renovated in 1984 and became the home of the Department of Visual Arts.  After its 2004 remodeling it became the location of the Department of Communications.  The most recent remodeling included a seismic upgrade, which due to its three stories built at different times was quite difficult.

I have actually only been in the building once and all I remember is that it has a really cool staircase.  While researching about it, I found some really interesting information.  I believe that there is a weather camera located either inside the building looking out a window or on the exterior.  You can see the weather camera by clicking here.  Some people have made time lapsed the videos that can be watched on youtube.  One of the better ones can be seen here (also as a point of warning if you are going to watch the videos, some are very poorly done.  One made me feel like I was at a psychedelic rock concert, but in a bad way).

As you have been reading this, I am sure that you have been very interested in the bathrooms in the Brimhall Building.  I found this site that ranks not only the Brimhall's bathrooms but also the bathrooms located in several buildings across BYU's campus.  I laughed really hard, and was actually quite amazed that someone would take that much time and energy.  Just so you know, the bathrooms were rated generally a low compared to others around campus and was given a score of "two rolls of toilet paper".

Finally, I found a really interesting article about George Brimhall entitled "The Names Behind the Buildings."  In it, the author describes the somewhat sad life of George Brimhall, how his wife cheated on him and was arrested for "cohabitation, unlawful" (which he very nonchalantly mentions in his journal the day it occurred), and his death resulting from a rifle bullet that was laying on the basement floor.  It is a really interesting read [NOTE: some claim that she was not cheating but rather that he was in a polygamous relationship]

As I was looking through old pictures, I found a cool picture taken from on top of the Maeser Building in 1918.  It is looking north towards what would eventually become the area where the Former Presidents' House and the Brimhall Building currently are located.  Here it is:

Courtesy of Brigham Young University, Lee Library