It’s been a while since I’ve written about campus architecture.  You might remember my short series entitled “Blunders of Brandeis” about the buildings and planning of Brandeis University.  This time I’m not so cynical.  I’d like to share with you some of the ways in which our most beloved building, Usen Castle, has influenced the modern pieces of architecture on campus.  Since I keep discovering more as I investigate the campus, this will be the first piece in a mini-series.

The first building I’d like to feature is Spingold Theater.  It has at least three castle-like characteristics.  Let’s start with the entrance, which reminds me of an open castle gate.  The large canopy above the doors is about the same size as the entrance, making it appear like it has been lifted up to welcome visitors.

Spingold "Gate"

The first feature one notices upon entrance is the ticket booth.  It’s also round and made of brick, with just a small window.  It reminds me of a castle turret.  It even has a small round hole through which to shoot you down with an arrow, should you try to seize the building.

Spingold's "Ticket Turret"

Spingold "Ticket Turret"

If you’ve seen the structure, surely you’ve noticed Spingold Theater’s perfectly round shape.  Perhaps you’ve thought that it was designed to look like a tophat.  I’d like to offer a new suggestion: the corridor that circles the entire building is intended to be a modernist form of moat.  It’s easy to feel lost, almost trapped, inside the hall.  There are many entrances of various types (some marked “no entry”) and no way understand your location.  Let’s look at some photos.

Spingold "Moat"

Spingold "Moat" from the Interior

Looking through to the moat, the lighting creates a forboding message, even on a bright day.

Spingold "Moat" from the Exterior

Spingold "Moat" from the Exterior

Lastly, any good castle needs a great view.  What use are towers and turrets if you can’t use them to survey your vast tracts of property?  Spingold is no exception–it has a fantastic view from the balcony that encircles the entire building.

Spingold's View

Spingold's View

I took this photo a week ago, so I’m sure that the view is even better today with the changing foliage.  I hope that if you haven’t visited the balcony that you will some time.

There you have it–my impressions of Spingold Theater as one of Brandeis’ castles.  Until next time, take it away in the comments to share your thoughts.

One comment on “The Castles of Brandeis: Part I – Spingold Theater”

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    […] Phil Activism, Context and Connections, Event, Phil I just attended a wonderful event on campus at Spingold Theater.  Tom Friedman, New York Times colmnist and Pullitzer Prize winner, spoke about his new book Hot, […]