300 Words


Notes from a Davidson Classroom
by John Syme

June 26. Third floor Chambers is quiet. Room 3106 is in the center of the building, above the Baxter Davidson Room and beneath the Chamber Maids. Inside, a jumble of paper airplanes and pink pencil cases rest where they’ve fallen, break time for middle-schoolers in the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) architecture class.

There are drafting tools and scale models on every surface. On a wide windowsill rests a row of architecture books from E.H. Little Library, from Vitruvius to Imagining Ground Zero. Outside the window, on the bricks below, gambol hundreds of the “TIPsters” in green ID lanyards and full-tilt adolescence.

Which ones might be back here in a few years, digging deeper?

Inside, the air is still, crowded with memories of curious souls who have peopled this space since 1929. Like the college itself, the room is the same now, but different. Its ornate moldings and pilasters, reminiscent of an 18th-century Viennese palace and carefully preserved through an early-21st-century renovation, attest to the strong sense of continuity with which this college imbues its buildings, as its mission, staying true amid change.

In front of the room hangs a creaky U.S. Army road map of southern Japan, complete with fine-print instructions on how to report updates. It makes a soft flibidap! as it rolls loosely back onto its spool, a historic exclamation point to many an alumnus’s and alumna’s creative and disciplined military service.

Room 3106 has been a language lab, reel-to- reel. How many students honed their linguistic skills here before striking out abroad?

Prof. Glenn Lindsey taught accounting here, on adding machines. How many students passed that class on their way to becoming humane leaders in business and industry? Today, it’s architecture with middle-schoolers, honorary Davidson students for a summer. What will they leave Room 3106 to build?


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