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The Door and the Maker

An analysis of the John Cushing Hall of Engineerings door in respects to its Creator

Julian Minondo
Writing and Rhetoric
Jeff Bain-Conkin

Doors reflect their begetters. The Engineering Halls door at the University of
Notre Dame reveals the Creators choices to the observer. The author of this entrance
weds elements of purpose, practicality, and meaning in the door.
A doors purpose is quite straightforward: it allows access from one space to
another. A door is an elemental part of any building, and the engineering school is no
exception. The Creator of this building chose doors because without them there would be
no access to the building. Though there were other alternatives, such as a tunnel entry or
a teleportation system, these options lacked practicality or plausibility.
Doors depend on their surroundings. As liaisons between space, doors must work
with their environment in order to be effective. Our door is located in the Southern quad
of campus, facing a lawn and with it the Mathematics hall. A concrete path runs in front
of it, and a diagonal path, cutting across the lawn, leads directly to it. The doors position,
in regards to these paths, accommodates the potential traffic from both directions. The
Creator designed the door at the crossroads of two paths in order to maximize the
movement of people going in and out of the building.
Doors provide support. As durable buildings are not built from feathers or
feelings, these require structures that aid in distributing weight. A titanic bulk of stone,
cement, bricks, desks, textbooks and boring sits squarely on our poor door.
In order to ease this burden, our door was fashioned with an elegantly arched design. This
coquettish motif channels the weight of the materials down its curved u-shape into the
ground. The Creator, knowing this, abandons the humdrum post-and lintel for its better-
looking Gothic cousin (twice removed).
Size, in the architectural world, matters. Our doors size is quite modest. A
respectably sized student, such as myself, towering at five-feet ten-inches, can pass
through the door with little difficulty. Sadly, the same cannot be said about significantly
taller beings. An enterprising giraffe, for example, would find passing through this door
frustrating. Given this, one can assume that the Creator, when designing this building,
had people and not giraffes in mind. The doors size is also designed for relatively low
traffic. This door frowns on Amusement-park hordes.
Small things determine success. Our door is firmly attached to a mainframe of
stone with hinges and screws. Without hinges the door would remain stiff, restricting
access to the building. Screws and bolts keep the door attached to the stone. These screws
and bolts, from a construction point of view, are better than say, glue sticks and saliva,
because they provide adequate support. In order for the door to satisfy its purpose the
Creator had to take into account all these small, practical details governing proper
A door is a practical thing. Our door is made from wood. Wood was chosen
because, unlike a concrete door, it does not require Samson-like strength to operate. The
door is thankfully not all glass. Though this would make the door operable, wrinkly old
men could mistake the engineering hall for a rather large sauna. The door is also quite
thick (two inches to be exact.) The thickness of the door shields the interior from outside
elements. This helps keep the electricity bill lower and provides a defense against non ax-
wielding intruders.
This door requires handling. The thickness of the door is (as mentioned above)
makes it relatively heavy. For those of unsound bodies, our door can actually be an
annoyance. Assuming someone is not holding her for you, operating this entrance may
require both hands. In order to work, a hand must maneuver one of the two shiny golden
handles, and then the other hand (if it chooses) must push or pull. The di-paneled door
also allows for two-way traffic. Unless one does not mind being impaled by a rogue
calculator or student, one should exercise caution when operating.
The engineering door screams symmetry. Etched into the rich, chocolaty colored
door are squares, rectangles, triangles, and rhombi. Our doors panels mirror one and
another. The door counts with two pairs of handles, and rectangular windows. On the first
level of the stone superstructure, two lamps and stone carvings flank the door; above it,
each of the two levels host two sets of symmetrically organized windows. Each of the
windows, including the ones on the door, divides into smaller square frames. In the
surrounding space, two trees of equal height and specie stare each other down, divided
only by the sidewalk leading into the building. In the immediate area around the exit, two
unexciting, black bike ribs protrude on each side of the door. The pavement in this same
area is grooved with rectangular lines. This hypnotizing use of symmetry in the door,
building and surrounding area creates harmony.
The doors pointed arch alludes to the Gothic legacy. Though we often associate
post imperial Rome and pre-renaissance Europe with the primitive, dark, and religious;
the Gothic period is a time of great engineering feats. The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
(from which our humble school borrows the name) speaks to this success. Gothic
architecture exemplifies the mathematical and architectural prowess of the human mind.
As a discipline that delights in mathematical principia, it seems fit that the Creator
chooses the Gothic style for the engineers building.
The door was tailored for engineering. Engineering, as a branch of science,
obsesses over the proper functioning of machines, buildings, structures, and engines. This
mathematical pursuit emphasizes the importance of function, design, and practicality.
The creator identifies these aspects and reflects them on the door.
Due to their ubiquitous nature of doors are often overlooked. The engineering
door stands as an exception. Its attractive design speaks to the imagination and expertise
of the Creator. The artful intertwinement of purpose, function and meaning in the door
make it a delight to behold.