Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Colossus of Spring & McKeen

The Colossus of Rhodes, you likely recall, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  It towered over the Greek island of Rhodes, and was 107 feet tall.


One imagines it was constructed in the name of community pride, and to demonstrate to all who beheld it the wealth and glory of the governing body of the day.  It is now long gone.

As fate would have it, centuries later, here in Brunswick, a modern-day Colossus is rising up at the corner of Spring and McKeen (would that they were ‘roads,’ but they are simply ‘streets.’)  And it towers over us and its surroundings, in the name of community pride. It provides tangible testimony to the wealth, self-indulgence, and wondrous benevolence of our local and state governing bodies.

When you behold the rising Colossus, you’ll be unable to deny the glories of this awesome edifice “to the children.”  Destined to become one of the Seven Wonders of Modern Brunswick, the Stowe School is a consummate exemplar of modern, publicly sponsored architecture.

It draws upon past Brunswickian glories as it evolves our public monuments into marvels of classic modern traditional design, with manifest respect for the neighborhood over which they loom. 

Think, for example, of how it follows the fine example of the current municipal building at 28 Federal Street, which replaced the much despised former Town Hall on Maine Street.


It screams out “historic New England town,” doesn’t it?

Weren’t we told that the new school would blend with the traditional character of the surrounding neighborhood?  Weren’t we told that the new Colossus would fit well within the sensibilities and timeless design of the established homesteads that lie in its shadow?

Sure we were.  ‘Thank you for your comments.  Would anyone else like to speak?’

But so what; the same forces that gave us the “oops” that is Jordan Acres are in play here: state and local officials; education researchers; architects who specialize in making ‘statements’ with public buildings.  Mix in LEEDS and ‘equity’ considerations, and you have a recipe for the structural equivalent of a collapsed leftovers souffl√©.

Other Side’s reputation as a cultural critic of local establishmentarians is well established, and we take pride in our status as yang to their ying.  Somebody’s gotta do it, and it might as well be us.

So let us give you our ‘quick look’ summary of the new edifice:

  • It offers an architectural ‘omage to the A/B & C/D wings of the prior occupant of the property.


  • It evolves the classic modernity of Jordan Acres School, shown here:


  • It evokes early McDonald’s architecture to remind us of important American history.






We can’t wait for the “Orange Arches” to be erected to complete the look.  (But I can’t understand why the playground is outside instead of inside!)

The aspect that seemed most prominent as we strolled the area, however, is the lack of ‘human scale’ in the building, especially where it is nearest the street.  Do what we did….walk along the Spring Street sidewalk.  And try to imagine 8 year olds walking the same path with the structure towering mightily over their heads.

As a final note, we offer the following predictions:

  • Within 15 years, the school’s architecture will seem dated, as folks identify it by the year it was built.
  • At approximately the same time, another school in Brunswick will be closed due to lack of enrollment.  Some public-spirited soul will call for a new school to be built anyway, to “restore our community pride and attract young families to the area.”
  • Stowe will be thought of with the same respect and pride accorded to the AB & CD wings it replaced.

As a matter of fact, in honor of the foregoing, we might just refer to is as the “E/F Wing” in future writings.

Brunswick has always been big on history and tradition, and this is no time to give up community pride in such things, is it.

1 comment:

  1. When I see this it reminds me of the colossus'that were built by Stalin and found themselves erected in all the Eastern European puppet states such as Poland. They were called Stalin's birthday cakes.