Death of a salesman, the birth of a building
ey're a proud depart-
Snent. They don't
ask for much.
- Richard Kinsey
It's Over Your Head
By Austin Dingwall
gainst the backdrop of a midnight sky,
the glowing box atop the Arthur Miller
Theatre pulsates gently in the wind. A
steel cage elegantly juts out of the concrete
structure, exposing bare material and crude
connections. Even though the cold evening
wind whips my scarf about and penetrates my
coat, the half-finished building sits peaceful
and silent - not minding the harsh, North
Construction can be ugly and tedious.
Detours and dust are often disruptive,
and neon orange is nobody's favorite
color. Yet sometimes under-construction,
prenatal buildings are as beautiful and
majestic as their adult counterparts. Get-
ting the chance to watch a building being
conceived, and ultimately born, is almost
as breathtakingly remarkable as watching
the sun set over the ocean. In both cases,
we know what will happen but still cannot
divert our eyes. They are both simply mes-
merizing scenes. The Arthur Miller The-
atre, currently being erected just north of
Pierpont Commons, is a prime example of
this unexpected architectural beauty.
Dedicated to the great playwright Arthur
Miller, the theater that is under construc-
tion and designed by Kuwabara Payne
McKenna Blumberg Architects of Canada
will surely enrich the North Campus both
architecturally and culturally. Today, how-
ever, I am not interested in what it will be;
I am interested in what it is. Without its
skin, the building shows the true nature
its form. Clean, cubic volumes of concrete
mass intersect each other while a steel
skeleton reaches into the space beyond.
These materials are raw and unadulterated
and, for some reason, the brisk, winter air
makes the shapes appear even crisper.
The building's voids are temporarily cov-
ered with translucent tarps that carelessly
overlap one another. At night, the lanterns
burn bright from within the structure, bring-
ing an ambience of tranquility to the sur-
rounding area. Ever so gently, these tarps
sway back and forth in accordance with the
chilling wind, and the building appears to be
breathing in the moonlight. Deep in slumber,
the Arthur Miller Theatre rests until the dawn
breaks and the workers return. Beautifully
incomplete, the building sleeps.
Waiting to be finished, the building is
actually not a building at all. No inhabit-
ants can enter, and it serves no function.
Without any immediate purpose, the struc-
ture is solely sculptural. The debate over
form versus function can fade into eter-
nity as far as this architecture in utero is
concerned. Here, there is only form and
thus the form prevails. These gracefully
large sculptures will soon have a life and
responsibility, but until then they will wait
with patient dignity.
An equally appealing aspect of these
works-in-progress is the mystery and activ-
ity surrounding them. Each day the con-
struction crew diligently crafts and molds
the building into shape, and each day we
wonder what the next step will be. As an
audience, we are watching a show that
continues for over a year and each day is a
new episode. Passing the Pierpont bus stop
and looking north, one might wonder what
will become of those massive steel beams.
What is that worker doing with that crane?
How will this become the rendered image
displayed in the newspaper? Part of the
magic is watching the plan unfold before
us, piece by piece and day by day. There is
a coordination to be admired, and there is
a path that we may not see. Ever increas-
ingly the building matures before our eyes
and leaves us wondering what is to come.
This aura of mystery wouldnot be possible
if not for another great feature of the mid-
construction building: transparency.
Most of the products we purchase are cre-
ated beyond the limitations of our sight.
Imported from China or produced in a facto-
ry and probably both, we cannot watch these
Walk escort service.
In the days before the budget cuts,
S.A.F.E. Walk was a 24 hour-a-day
escort service staffed by student
employees. Now, program volunteers
walk students home, but only until 3
a.m., when they are advised to go to
the Shapiro Undergraduate Library
to pick up a free Yellow Cab.
Cops are people too
patrols the streets of North
Campus four nights a week,
for 10 hours each. Starting
at midnight. Veld cruises through
parking lots, inspects the medical
and science buildings, and checks
on any areas historically prone to
Veld says he began camping out next
to a stop sign near the hospital after
hospital administrators complained
to DPS that cars were frequently run-
ning the stop sign. He said he wasn't
out there giving tickets because of
a requirement to give out a certain
number, as AAPD does. He said he
was there because of the "real poten-
tial for somebody to get hurt."
"l'm pretty lenient," he added.
"They have to really blow it."
Last Friday night Veld sat and
watched at least 20 cars neglect to
stop at the intersection before decid-
ing to pursue a vehicle that had
"not even slowed down." He let the
woman go with a verbal warning.
Although nobody likes to get a
ticket, especially on a little-used
University street, Veld was acting
directly in response to concerns of the
If only the whole department were
a little more like that.
The University's zero-tolerance
policies for underage drinking, the
steep pot fines and the mandatory
breathalyzer tests are all incongru-
ous with the general atmosphere
and climate on campus, even though
DPS has made a tangible difference
in other areas of crime prevention.
The University relentlessly penal-
izes students who drink on cam-
pus. Although DPS is not directly
responsible for changing ordinances
or altering policies, its recommen-
dations are taken seriously by those
who make the decisions.
But without any impetus 'from the
department itself, the responsibility
to change policies lies with the stu-
dents. Students have historically had
little say over decisions made by the
Regents. Without a direct channel to
the Regents or DPS itself, students are
left with few avenues to enact change.
Bess says the best way-for students to
make themselves heard is through the
Michigan Student Assembly, the same
governing body that led the fruitless
charge against deputization 16 years
ago. But MSA's activism techniques
are rusty. The last big event they put
on for the campus was not a protest. It
was a Ludacris concert.
"Actually I kind of long to see the
days when the marches across the
Diag were more frequent," Duder-
stadt said. "I think it's unfortunate
in a way. Student activism animates
Until then, students will continue
their love-hate relationship with the
campus police force.
The Arthur Miller Theatre is named after the recently deceased alumni playwright.
products being born like we can a building.
Because it is possible to gaze upon the con-
struction process from foundation to interior
trim, we are that much more connected with
the structure. An undeniable intimacy extends
across the construction fence and out into the
community by the simple virtue of visibility.
There are no secrets. We observe the inner
organs of the building before they are covered
with the structural skeleton and finally clad
in its impermeable casing. When the Arthur
Miller Theatre's red ribbon is finally cut and
the project is completed, we will have with
us the memory of its struggle to become fin-
ished. We experienced the journey together;
we saw the idea become a reality.
Next time you pass by Arthur Miller
Theatre, or any other building in mid-con-
struction, absorb the essence of its life. The
building is growing and will be completed
before you know it. After that, it will be a
regular building, and you've seen plenty of
those. So catch the moment of the unfin-
ished, appreciate the beauty of its form,
and wonder about its future. The moment
will not last long.
Dance to The Music
The School of Music presents a celebration,
of University composers with a performance of
modern dance and music. The show begins at 8
p.m. at the Power Center. Tickets are available
through the Michigan League Ticket Office
and are $9 with student ID.
The School of Music presents a concert with the
music of John Corigliano. The show begins at 8
pm. at Hill Auditorium and admission is free.
University Unions Arts and Programs presents
a night of salsa dancing lessons. This first of three
lessons begins at 9 pm. at the Pierpont Commons.
Admission is free.
Big Ten Blood Battle
The Alpha Phi Omega student organiza-
tion on campus is sponsoring another Uni-
versity blood battle - this one with the
likes of Michigan State, the University of
Iowa and Ohio State. The battle begins at 2
p.m. at South Quad Residence Hall.
The Vagina Monologues
Eve Ensler's award-winning play The Vagi-
na Monologues comes to the Ark as a benefit
for the SafeHouse Center. The show begins at
2 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available through
the Michigan Union Ticket Office or online at
The Ann Arbor Council for Traditional
Music and Dance presents a night of dance
and music taught by Marlin Whitaker. The
show begins at 7 p.m. at the Pittsfield Grange.
Tickets are $5 for students.
The University Musical Society presents
a concert by Louis Lortie playing Chopin.
The performance begins at 8 p.m. at Hill
Auditorium. Tickets range from $10 to $50
and are available online at www.urns.org.
The Canterbury House presents an opportu-
nity for students to express their faith through the
music of Steve Rush and Quartex and prayer. It
begins at 5 pm. at the Canterbury House. Admis-
sion is free.
Rhymesayer Records MC P.O.S. comes to the
Blind Pig with special guests Mac Lethal and
Sims. Doors for the 18+ show are at 9 p.m. Tick-
ets are $6 for attendants under 21 and $9 for those
4B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 2, 2006
The Michigan Daily -