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Profile Of The Past: Memorial Coliseum – Part 4 Of 4

Posted by Matt on March 18, 2008


Part 1 (link)

Part 2 (link)

Part 3 (link)

Characteristics In The History Of Higher Education

The style and design of Memorial Coliseum illustrates two important characteristics in the history of higher education: the increasing ability to build large, imposing structures on a continuously growing institution and the growing emphasis and interest in athletics in higher education as more than merely an extra-curricular activity. Many were skeptical during construction regarding the size of Memorial Coliseum that a building of that magnitude would ever be useful or fully utilized on a college campus. History since then goes to show that in regards to Kentucky men’s basketball, they have far exceeded the expectations of those who designed Memorial Coliseum and fans are now filling an arena with more than three times the seating to its capacity in Rupp Arena. The current utilization of the facility for various collegiate athletic events, mainly in women’s athletics, as well as for numerous casual campus events shows how far campus life and the size of state-funded universities has come in just fifty years, which is a small frame of time in the complete historical record of higher education.

Depiction of History and Heritage

The University of Kentucky does a good job in using and depicting history by continuing to make buildings and facilities from the past, such as Memorial Coliseum, currently relevant in today’s world. Through renovations and upgrades, the university is able to keep historical buildings in working condition and useful for the current landscape of campus and extensive involvement in campus life.

There is a balanced mix of historical buildings and modern architecture on the campus of the University of Kentucky and though the campus may not be as entrenched in tradition and lore as many other institutions, the use of a historic building in Memorial Hall as part of the school’s flagship logo shows an embracing of the past by the administration.

Campus Community Members

Future campus community members need to realize the history and importance of architecture around campus and how and why each building was erected. In the case of Memorial Coliseum, it was nearly a nine year process from idea to completion and was built to serve the students as a complete athletic, physiological, and recreational facility to further campus life. The naming of the building was in honor of Kentucky’s own sons and daughters who died in World War I and in the Korean Conflict. Knowing the lasting legacies of events that took place in Memorial Coliseum and the legendary faces that walked the halls allows one to appreciate what the arena means to this campus, enabling effective work within the campus.

An example specific to Memorial Coliseum of an expectation for administration to know the historical importance of a building on campus was the unique situation created by the disposal of planks from the previous wood flooring during renovations in 2007. Many people were franticly trying to retrieve a piece of the basketball flooring from the construction dumpsters and most did not understand why the athletic department would throw away items that held such historical value on this campus. The approach of learning the history and importance of architecture is not limited to Memorial Coliseum, merely the research is, and thus it applies to all buildings on the campus of the University of Kentucky as well as any architecture on any college campuses and beyond. To appreciate something one must know it first.


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