Navigating Space: Tompkins Hall

Originally built in 1901, Tompkins hall is a long brick building right on the edge of Hillsboro street. Fitted with computer labs and classrooms, my English 101 class is housed there, along with many other English classes. There are several entrances to the building that spit you into different areas — you can enter off of Hillsboro street, from the rear of the building to a split stairwell, or through Caldwell Hall, which is directly attached.

As for layout, the building is simple: A total of four floors (2 floors and a basement), long hallways with medium-sized rooms branching off them, and long, incredibly uncomfortable benches scattered in between. It’s aesthetic reflects it’s age — the cream hardwood floors creak unsteadily with every step, the low ceilings loom overhead, and everything is coated in a sort of dingy light. Of course, it’s made primarily of brick, a North Carolina State University architecture staple.

The hallways are designed to push the flow of students to their respective classrooms. It is first and foremost, a building to facilitate education, so it has significantly less flair than any sort of social building like Talley or Reynolds Colosseum. My favorite aspect of the building though is the windows. Replicating the shape of the original windows — the building was rebuilt after a fire — the tall glass windows cover the entire building, allowing a beautiful amount of light into the rooms. They open up the small rooms, removing the cramped feeling of the plain walls. They’re a more modern take on the original design, making the building feel newer than it actually is.

Overall, Tompkins Hall is plainly and simply a building for education. It doesn’t offer many unique features or innovative design, but it serves it’s exact purpose, the same one it’s been doing since 1901. I like the historical aspect of the design on campus — it’s a nice reminder of the history we get to live in every day.