Space matters. The spaces where we live, work, and play shape how we socialize with one another. Our social interactions, in turn, influence spaces. To understand what we mean, take a look at the image to the right. Now, let’s trace the images displayed around the ram’s horn, starting with the Old Main building pictured at the bottom-right. What does this place tell you about the people and priorities of the institution that would eventually become Colorado State University? Old Main characterizes the land-grant institution’s humble beginnings during the Pioneer Era (1870-1909) as the original social epicenter of campus. The all-purpose building housed all the classrooms and staff offices, in addition to a library, chapel, and gymnasium. As you follow the curve of the ram’s horn, we see how the heart of campus activities moved to the Oval. At the upper-right, you’ll notice an image of two rows of tall, shade-furnishing elm trees rooted through the middle of the open space. This greenery witnessed a host of social events, from military drilling to graduation ceremonies, all the while framing the imposing Administration building as pictured in next image on the ram’s horn. Constructed during the Lory Era (1909-1940), the Administration building and the Oval represent a tension in the college’s history. On the one hand, the neoclassical architecture of the Administration building and the formal arrangement of space emphasize hierarchy and structure. On the other hand, buildings from Johnson Hall to Ammons Hall hold relatively equal positions on the roundabout that indicate a sense of democracy. Railroad tracks advance along the eastern edge of this place, which, in effect, separated the Pioneer-Era buildings from the Lory-Era Oval.
Now, let’s follow the ram’s horn from the Oval to the current focal point of the college grounds, the Plaza. At the upper-left, you’ll see images of the Lory Student Center (LSC) and Morgan Library, both of which are located on the Plaza. The shift in the heart of campus from the Oval to the Plaza mirrors the northeast to southwest progression of university expansion over the 1940s and Morgan Era (1949-1969). If you moved through the LSC during the Modern Era (1969-1990) onwards, you’d quickly recognize that cultural and advocacy centers eventually lined some walls to support college diversity, while row after row of corporate food chains gradually filled other walls to serve college appetites. All of these spatial arrangements reveal the ongoing strains between formalism, egalitarianism, and corporatism that have defined CSU’s history of campus development.
The spaces through which we have moved tell a keen observer quite a lot about the evolution of CSU. In fact, the new football stadium and Aggie Village redevelopments, both pictured with images at the bottom, possibly signal the arrival of a new epicenter of social interactions in the Digital Era (1990-present). Tour this StoryMap to continue to trace the ram’s horn to other parts of the main campus. Click on the tabs above to view different historical eras, explore the buildings, and make sense of the places that surround us.