Granite, Concrete and Brick
Netsch selected three sturdy materials – granite, concrete, and brick – which are repeated in structures throughout the campus. Solid granite from Minnesota quarries was chosen for its permanency and its ability to withstand the annual removal of snow and ice. Brick and concrete, both readily available at the time, could resist dirt or disfigurement. Netsch developed special colors and sizes of brick as well as six different finishes for concrete. He utilized a relatively low strength reinforced concrete as a cost saving measure.
The lecture centers illustrate Netsch’s use of granite and concrete. Visible below the roofline is a layer of granite a foot thick that forms the base of the building roofs. It is supported by “butterfly columns”, so named by the architect for the shape of the column capitals, which increase the area the columns are able to support. Precast concrete columns supported all the granite walkways linking the Netsch buildings. Those at ground level in the early years found themselves walking in what Netsch referred to as “a forest of columns.”Netsch designed columns of differing height and girth, depending on the load they were to carry.