Campus Landmarks Category
Rocky Branch Creek is the stream that runs a mile through the heart of NC State’s campus along Sullivan Drive and behind Carmichael Gym. It was once an unsightly ditch with the distinction of being the most polluted stream in North Carolina.
Today, the creek meanders through a floodplain, full of aquatic life, and serves as a model of restoration practices for the region.
Lucy Laffitte, science education specialist for UNC-TV, used the transformation of Rocky Branch Creek as a centerpiece for her thesis when she received her Ph.D. in forestry from NC State in 2010. And she has documented the work in a new education video for Quest, a web-based venture funded by the National Science Foundation to provide education on the science of sustainability.
Laffitte was working as a graduate researcher and sustainability coordinator for Centennial Campus when she first became interested in the stream restoration project. The Rocky Branch Creek transformation was well underway and the university was interested in working on House Creek on the College of Veterinary Medicine campus and North Creek on Centennial Campus.
What interested Laffitte was not just how the project changed the creeks but how it changed attitudes, and her Ph.D. thesis focused on how institutions learn.
“Institutions grow rigid by nature over time and are not as innovative,” she says, and the way to change that “is to bring people from the margins — a student, a faculty member — into the process.”
Working for Quest, which is a collaboration of public TV stations in six states, Laffitte wrote and produced the video showing how NC State gained a new appreciation for rainwater as the Rocky Branch project unearthed the stream from culverts, integrated the flowing waters into the landscape and created floodplains to capture and filter rainwater. That appreciation is reflected in the interest in rain gardens such as those recently constructed at Syme and Lee dorms, Laffitte says.
One of the most important parts of the creek restoration was removing most of the culverts, a process called “daylighting.” “You have to put creeks in sunlight or they’ll die,” Laffitte says.
Rocky BranchCreek is continuing to change attitudes as it serves as a model for urban creek restoration. A greenway along the creek features interpretive signs that explain the restoration concepts, and the creek itself is used by students and faculty at NC State as an outdoor teaching laboratory.
— Sylvia Adcock ’81
Football and Christmas cards aren’t the only Wolfpack traditions Worth Williams shares with his family. He even incorporated NC State into his marriage proposal.
Williams met his fiancé, Haley Hendrix, in 2010 through mutual friends. They were both enthusiastic about sports and attended most football and basketball games together.
Williams’ interest in NC State football came from members of his family. His parents, Tod and Donna Williams, both attended NC State, as did his grandfather and uncles. During football season, his family has season tickets and attends every home game.
“My family’s lives revolve around football season,” Williams says.
Hendrix’s parents, Doug and Carole Hendrix, also support NC State football, although they do not go to every game. They went to their first Wolfpack football game for parents weekend, and they now go to at least one game a season.
The first time Williams’ parents met Hendrix’s parents was at a game against UNC in 2011. “Even though my dad is a Carolina fan, he was wearing all red the day they met,” Hendrix says.
Their parents have been close ever since, and Williams’ invited Hendrix’s parents to his graduation in December 2013. (Hendrix graduated in May 2013 with a master’s degree in elementary education – she now teaches first grade in Pitt County.) After the ceremony, Williams’ mother suggested taking photos at the Bell Tower before going out to dinner.
“He asked me to take some pictures with him, too,” Hendrix says. “I said ‘Hey, let’s do the Wolfpack hand thing’ and then he unzipped his gown and pulled out a box from his pocket.”
All of their immediate family, including Williams’ sister, Ellen, parents and grandparents watched the scene unfold.
“I was so surprised. I asked if he was serious,” Hendrix says. “And then I said, ‘Yes, of course!’”
The family’s dedication to football played a big role in choosing a date for the wedding. “Since the football schedule was released, we finally got to pick a date. There’s no game on October 25, so we’re getting married that day,” Hendrix says.
Besides choosing a date, Hendrix and Williams, who works for his family’s Worthington Farms, want to include a few other Wolfpack-related traditions in their wedding plans.
“We want to have a Wolfpack themed groom’s cake for the rehearsal dinner,” Hendrix says. “And obviously the Fight Song will be played at some point.”
Hendrix is also considering having red and white pom poms instead of sparklers at the wedding. The couple hopes to come up with even more Wolfpack-related things to include in their ceremony and reception.
That shouldn’t be hard considering Williams’ family has so many Wolfpack-oriented traditions already. Most gifts in his family are Wolfpack themed, as well as their Christmas ornaments and even their family photos for Christmas cards.
“We will be Wolfpack fans forever, “ Hendrix says. “And we will carry on the traditions if we start a family some day.”
As early as pre-school, it’s evident that some kids either won’t — or can’t – draw between the lines. The same, apparently, is true of some college students.
On this day in 1995, a meeting was held at the University Student Center to discuss problems at the Free Expression Tunnel. The subsequent headline in the Technician spelled out the problem: “Scribblers who can’t stay in between the lines are costing the university thousands of dollars.”
The issue was not what people were painting inside the tunnel. It was what they were painting outside the tunnel, ignoring rules that had been in place since 1967.
“People are only allowed to paint within the confines of the tunnel,” said a campus official, who noted that the university spent $14,000 the previous year cleaning up vandalized areas outside the tunnel.
Student Body President Bobby Johnson said that students weren’t aware of the boundaries.
Bob Bryan, president of the Faculty Senate, seemed more concerned about what was being painted within the tunnel. “My biggest concern is all the crude, crass and immature expressions,” he said. “The good part is that we value free speech. I would just like to see enlightening and positive art instead.”
That prompted Clayton Goldsmith, a junior in mechanical engineering, to speak up for the Free Expression Tunnel and the role it played on campus.
“The Free Expression Tunnel is a book of sorts,” he said. “New pages are written every day. Although the pages cannot be turned back, those few thick inches of paint represent the history of expression.”
The winter issue of NC State magazine includes a story about photographs that Michael Ligett, a part-time lecturer in the College of Engineering, has taken of the Free Expression Tunnel. The story includes three photographs of a wedding proposal that took place at the wall outside the tunnel on Labor Day last year. Here is the story behind those photos.
Jimmy Nguyen had no problem figuring out where he wanted to propose to Sonya Patel. Making it work, though, was a tad more complicated.
Nguyen and Patel met in 2005 as students at NC State — they were both members of a dance team on campus — and they started dating soon afterward. They continued to see each other after they graduated and lived in different cities.
So when Nguyen was ready to propose last year, he knew the perfect spot to pop the question.
“Sonya was born and raised in Cary,” Nguyen says. “Her family had season tickets to NC State football — she was a Wolfpacker through and through. During our relationship, she would say, ‘I love NC State. I’m so glad I met you here. Everything has worked out.’”
So Nguyen decided to propose at the Free Expression Tunnel. Nguyen initially thought about copying the style of the graffiti artists who frequently paint on the wall outside the tunnel. “I tried to do it myself, but spray painting was not my thing,” he says. So he tried to find one of the graffiti artists, hoping they would accept a commission to paint his proposal on the wall. That didn’t work, either. “They were hard to find and wanted to remain anonymous,” he says.
With painting no longer an option, Nguyen thought about pasting large photos of he and Patel on the wall. But he worried that NC State might have rules against pasting items on the wall and that they would be too easy for others to take down before he could get Patel to the wall.
Then, after brainstorming with a cousin, Nguyen figured out his plan. He would paint the wall white, frame the black-and-white photos in red, wooden frames and stick the frames to the white-washed wall. Then he would make another red frame for he and Patel to stand in when he popped the question. “I wanted to do it in NC State colors – red, white and black,” he says. “It all made sense, kind of tied it together.”
Making his idea a reality was no small task. He wanted to propose on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so he blocked out the entire weekend to buy the wood, cut it to make the frames and stain it red. Then Patel called, telling him that her father had tickets for the NC State football game that Saturday. Nguyen tried to beg off, offering the “lame” excuse that he needed to do yard work. But he went to the game, thinking the whole time about how much work he still had to do before Sunday afternoon.
“I stayed up 72 hours straight working on this,” he says.
Nguyen enlisted some cousins and friends to paint the wall white on Sunday morning, a job that took about an hour. But when they started trying to attach the frames to the wall, the frames kept pulling off the paint and crashing to the ground. It was 2:30 in the afternoon by then, and Nguyen had told Patel he would pick her up at 5 p.m. for dinner that night.
“So I’m freaking out,” Nguyen says. “What am I going to do? Then we get some twine and tied the photos to bricks we had found and strung it over the wall. It worked – it had movement, it was kind of crooked, it was nice.”
Nguyen only had a couple of hours left to get home, get cleaned up and pick up Patel for dinner. He had come up with a plausible reason to give Patel for stopping by campus on the way to dinner, but he was running out of time. And then he noticed the storm clouds moving in. He picked up Patel, and high-tailed it for the Free Expression Tunnel.
“We headed to campus, and I’m speeding,” he says. “She tells me to stop speeding, but the clouds were moving in pretty quickly. That’s the reason I was speeding. I’ve never seen clouds move so fast in my life.”
Nguyen and Patel made it to the wall in time. She says she was initially so focused on the tunnel itself that she didn’t notice what was on the wall. “I just remember thinking, “I haven’t been here in so long – and I miss it,” she says.
Patel’s initial reaction to seeing her photos on the wall was confusion. What are these red frames? Why are our pictures on the wall? Then it hit her.
“Once she realized, the waterworks turned on and they didn’t stop,” Nguyen says. “She completely knows what’s happening at that point.”
Or, as Patel says, “Jimmy started talking, saying he wanted to surprise me and show our story together for the past several years up on the wall. And I knew. And, yes, the waterworks came full speed! I could hardly talk.”
So Nguyen took Patel by the hand and led her to the large frame. He got down on one knee, pulled out the ring and popped the question. “For a split second she was speechless, which kind of worried me,” Nguyen says. “She eventually said ‘Yes.’ That’s how we got engaged.”
Nguyen and Patel hope to get married this summer. They are both glad that the Free Expression Tunnel was where they agreed to spend the rest of their lives together.
“Jimmy putting up our story on the wall was poetic and very ‘us,’” Patel says. “Proposing there was our next chapter. I just love that place, with all its good, bad and in between. Even when there was controversy surrounding tags in the tunnel, it is always a conversation starter and I love that.”
Nguyen says the tunnel is a “huge part” of NC State. “It shows that the university is open to having any and every conversation,” he says. “It’s a really good space.”
Abie Harris will turn 80 in early January, and his friends and colleagues at the Roundabout Art Collective in Raleigh have come up with a special way to celebrate the occasion and Harris’ long ties to NC State.
Harris is an NC State alumnus, having graduated with a degree in design in 1957. Following graduation, Harris won the prestigious Paris Prize in Architecture and was able to travel and study throughout Europe. He eventually returned to NC State as a professor in the College of Design and the university architect, a job that gave him a leading role in the development of Centennial Campus and the re-development of Main Campus.
But Harris is also an artist, focusing on drawing in pastels and acrylics since he retired from NC State in 1998. He is a charter artist at the Roundabout Art Collective, which will celebrate his 80th birthday with a retrospective of his life in art. The show, which opens on Jan. 3 as part of Raleigh’s First Friday festivities, will feature nearly 60 years of Harris’ drawings and paintings. Some of the drawings will be sketches of buildings on NC State’s campus that Harris did while he worked at the university. On Saturday, Jan. 4, Harris will open the studio and gallery in his home in Raleigh to showcase more of his works.
A drawing by Harris of the Parthenon from his travels as a recipient of the Paris Prize
“There are drawings that were part of my work as university architect,” Harris says. “There are a lot of travel sketches and recent paintings that I’ve done. It will have a lot of variety.”
Even in retirement, Harris has maintained his ties to NC State, walking across campus every day to work out in Carmichael Gym. It’s a campus that he helped shape and design.
When Harris was hired as the university architect, Chancellor John T. Caldwell was clear about his mission. “Caldwell charged me with making the campus a better looking place,” Harris recalls. “Looking back at it, I feel very satisfied that the campus is much nicer today than it was then.”
The Court of North Carolina, for instance, had a street running through it when Harris started working at NC State. “We have taken parking lots and made courtyards out of them,” he says. “The whole emphasis was on the spaces in between. That is something that is starting to mature and blossom.”
The creative energy that Harris brought to his work on campus is now directed into his art. He says that joining the Roundabout Art Collective — and surrounding himself with high-energy, creative people — has been a boon to his own productivity.
“I very much enjoy the process,” Harris says of his drawings and paintings. “I enjoy the finished product because it’s very seldom what I imagine it’s going to be. I’ve always enjoyed putting ink or color on paper and seeing how those interact and take on a life of its own.”
Harris recently took on the unusual challenge of drawing music. Yes, drawing music. Harris was challenged by a friend who performs in the N.C. Symphony to draw the Goldberg Variations, compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, during a recent performance by the symphony. So Harris drew the music — he ended up creating about 50 drawings (right) and paintings — while listening to the symphony perform. “That was fairly unusual,” he says.
Harris is excited about the upcoming retrospective.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself going through this process,” he says. “I like to draw and hope to continue to draw. I hope that people just appreciate that process.”
When you consider all that Carroll Lamb Mann did for NC State during his 47 years as a professor of civil engineering (including 32 years as head of the Department of Civil Engineering), it’s not surprising that he would have a building on campus named for him.
But two buildings?
On this day in 1963, the Technician reported that the new civil engineering building had been completed. The story noted that the four-story building, with more than 76,000 square feet of space, would be named after Mann.
What the story did not note was that it would be the second building at NC State that had been named for Mann. The other building had been incorporated into Daniels Hall in 1956, some seven years earlier.
The new civil engineering building was a 65 percent increase in existing engineering facilities on campus, but it was also designed so that it could be expanded either vertically or horizontally, according to the story.
It was, as noted by NC State’s facilities division, typical of many building constructed in the 19609s. But it included at least one feature not found in most buildings — a five-foot thick concrete slab floor in a lab used for structural testing.
Mann, the building’s namesake, spent much of his life at NC State. He majored in civil engineering at the end of the 19th century, earning his degree in 1899. After working as a surveyor (he was part of an effort to study the feasibility of building a canal across Nicaragua), Mann returned to NC State as a professor of civil engineering and served as head of the Department of Civil Engineering for 32 years. He would teach at NC State for nearly five decades before retiring in 1948.
He also served for 30 years as chairman of the alumni memorial committee that conceived of and constructed the Memorial Bell Tower. The tower was dedicated in 1949, one year after Mann’s retirement from NC State.
“My greatest experience has been the work I have done on that tower,” Mann once said. “When the time comes for me to die, the last think I want to hear are the chimes on Memorial Tower at the College.”
For 35 years, members of the Air Force ROTC’s Marching Cadets stood guard at the Bell Tower to honor veterans on Pearl Harbor Day. At noon Saturday, members of the now-dissolved fraternity are again meeting at the tower to pay their respects.
Founded in 1960, the Marching Cadets (MCs) served as the Air Force ROTC drill team, presenting the colors at football and basketball games and marching in local parades while spinning, throwing and catching M1 rifles. As its annual service project, the organization would guard the Bell Tower for 24 hours every Dec. 6-7 and hold a wreath laying ceremony.
A Marching Cadet at the Bell Tower in 1977
“Even though it was usually right in the middle of exams, we would go out and take turns for an hour at a time at the Bell Tower in groups of four or five,” says Marching Cadet Will Compton, a 1988 graduate. “It was modeled after the tomb of the unknown solider.”
Though they won’t be in uniform or guarding the tower this year, a group of Marching Cadets plans to honor World War II veteran Millie Beasey with an informal ceremony and wreath laying. Beasey served in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-female, all-black postal battalion that helped deliver mail to the front lines in Europe.
T.C. Moore, a Marching Cadet and 1988 graduate, says the group plans to talk to Beasey about her experiences, explain the significance of the tower and share some stories from past ceremonies. Moore and Compton say that while Dec. 6 always used to feel like the coldest night of the year, it was a special one for the cadets.
“It was just a unique feeling to be standing there,” Moore says. “It just gave you a time to reflect on what sacrifices people in the military have made and what they gave up, and you knew you were doing your own little part in helping honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Compton delivered a speech at his first ceremony in 1986. He says having the chance to speak about the events of Dec. 7, 1941, in front of a Pearl Harbor survivor is something he’ll never forget.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” he says. “To actually have the Pearl Harbor survivor present certainly evoked images of what they went through.”
As a freshman, Moore noticed those wearing the Marching Cadets’ red-and-white cords always seemed to have it together and asked how he could join. Both Moore and Compton pledged in spring of 1986 and were inducted the weekend of the North Carolina Azalea Festival parade in Wilmington, N.C., one of the biggest events the group participated in.
Both Compton and Moore served in the Air Force after graduation. Moore now works for the Air Force as a civilian contractor and Compton is a Delta Airlines pilot.
Over the years, the Marching Cadets became an incredibly tight-knit group of men and women. And once members were initiated, they were in for life, even if they graduated or dropped out — Moore says it isn’t uncommon to see graduates come back to meetings or help out at events.
The group fell on hard times in the ’90s when Air Force ROTC’s national headquarters withdrew its sponsorship and membership declined from about 30 ROTC members to less than 20. Though the Marching Cadets fraternity dissolved in 1996, its legacy hasn’t — the Air Force ROTC guards the Bell Tower overnight for Veterans Day and the cadets held a reunion in 2011.
After the reunion, Compton, Moore and other Raleigh-area members decided to bring back “team eats,” a dining-out tradition from their college days. They try to get together for dinner once a month.
Reynolds Coliseum has seen its share of great performances, from the rock ‘n’ roll stylings of the Rolling Stones to David Thompson’s leaps over opponents.
But on this day in 1961, the arena was treated to something just as enticing as Thompson’s acrobatics when the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company performed there.
The performance, which was a part of the Friends of the College series, was presented in five parts to illustrate the cultural heritage of the Philippines.
One of those parts included the Maginlatik (above). The Technician described the all-male dance as one “characterized by horse-play and the beating of a staccato tattoo on sets of coconut shells positioned on the thighs, hips, chests, and backs of dancers. The dance has its origins in a mock fight for latik, which is the coconut meat residue after the oil has been pressed from it.”
The Bayanihan visit would be a precursor to another dance troupe’s performance at NC State several weeks later. In another performance in the Friends of the College Series, the Polish Mazowsze (below), not to be outdone, wowed another Reynolds’ audience.
With his creation of tournament basketball in the South, the freight-train speed of his fast break or his gimmicks like the applause meter inside of Reynolds Colisuem, Everett Case changed the game of basketball at both ends, and off of the court.
It turns out those innovations stretched even to Hollywood. Case was known for having his games and practices recorded, and those tapes were used for him to grow the sport and to teach others about his unique view of the game.
And it was on this day in 1950 that The Technician reported that NC State games would be recorded in Technicolor for the first time. While most of the games would be recorded in black and white that 1950-51 season, the matchups with the other teams of the Big Four — Duke, Wake Forest and UNC — got the innovative rainbow treatment on film.
The Technician reported that it was Reynolds’ state-of-the-art lighting facilities that allowed for Technicolor filming for Wolfpack games for the first time.
“Requests from all over the United States and from overseas occupation units have been placed for the films,” read The Technician article. “Uncle Sam appears to have taken a special interest in them. The American command in Munich, Germany wishes to use the movies to aid in their athletics program. …High school basketball teams in every section of the country are studying the offensive and defensive plays of the Wolfpack by the means of these films.”
Not long ago, the automobile ruled on Stinson Drive.
Students walking on Stinson, with its two-way traffic and parking on both sides of the street, had to compete with cars to get where they were going. “The sidewalks were really narrow,” says Lisa Johnson, university architect. “At class change, the street was overwhelmed.”
As part of the university’s effort in recent years to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly and establish a network of “campus paths,” Stinson—which runs roughly from Pullen Road to near Harrelson Hall—got a major facelift.
No more two-way traffic; today there’s only one lane for vehicular traffic. Parking on one side of the street was moved to another location (Johnson stresses that parking spots are never eliminated, just moved).
And most important, the narrow sidewalks have been replaced. On the north side of the street, the brick sidewalk is nearly as wide as the roadway. Most of the existing trees were left in place, and new landscaping was added.
The project was originally funded when Riddick, one of the buildings along the street, was being renovated. Now the corridor that runs between heavily used buildings like Broughton and Polk, Riddick and Daniels is a pleasant walk for students changing classes instead of an exercise in frustration.
—Sylvia Adcock ’81