The building's interior decoration takes
three forms: the shapes and colors of the
structure itself, the patterning of the
terrazzo floor, and the ceiling of the Main
Hall. Each merits brief explanation.
Shape and Color: The interior is
constructed largely of inexpensive,
manufactured materials. The walls are
sheetrock and fiberglass-reinforced, cast
gypsum. The structural concrete is
exposed in many places. The ceiling is a
simple, lay-in, acoustical tile, set at a forty-five
degree angle to the buildingšs grid.
The balustrade rails are made from steel
pipe. The only "natural" material found
in any quantity is the wood of the doors.
To dress up the interior and imbue these
inexpensive materials with a deeper
meaning, Outram uses both shape and
color. The column yokes, where a round
column metamorphosizes into a cage of
four square columns, stand out because of
their curved surfaces. The eye refuses to
believe that the smooth and changing curve
of its corners is simply gypsum; it looks
more expensive. The color changes on the
yoke ensure that the eye "reads" the
curves. Similarly, the smooth, round
columns of the West Hall deceive the eye;
they are built from sheetrock. The mind is
prejudiced to think of sheetrock as
rectangular and flat; when confronted with
this curved application, the immediate
assumption is that some more sturdy and
expensive material was used.
All the surfaces of the interior are colored,
from the floor to the ceiling. Outram uses
color to make your eye "read" the curves
and twists of the interior. However, it is
important to understand that color is
simply another arrow in the quiver of his
architecture of ideas. He selects colors to
convey larger ideas; each choice is fraught
Each floor has a characteristic color,
matching the scheme of the exterior.
The first floor is blue, for water.
The second floor is green, for the earth-the life space.
The third floor is intended to be pink-reminiscent of
a baby's first breath (air). Unfortunately, no pink works
with the other colors in the room, so the pink became red.
The clearstory, or fourth floor, is yellow, for fire.
The long expanse of ceiling is broken,
by the two halls, into eight large
rooms. The ceiling in each room has
a subtly different color.
The doors, despite being made of natural wood, are stained
aubergine, the color of shadow.
Slab edges, bridges, and the stairs have
a blue wave beneath them. This shows
that each floor rests on the river's
shore, and is thus prime river-front
The balustrade rail has four colors.
The structural members are yellow and anthracite gray,
recalling day and night, or
time. The green grid is set in a blue
cage, suggesting land surrounded by
water, or space. Together, they
remind us of the juxtaposition of space and time.
Color is intended to convey meaning and
to provoke thought. These are a few
examples, to tease your mind. As you walk
the building, you can search for others.
This is precisely as Outram intends; the
interior should stimulate thought, both
conscious and subconscious.
The Floor: The public areas of the first floor
are emblazoned with a terrazzo floor that
depicts the river valley. It starts in the
West Hall, the dancing floor at the head of
the canyon. Here, the rivulets of water that
flow down the stairs from the high
balconies mix together on the sandy floor
to form the river. The waves flow eastward
down the canyon toward the delta. As the
river passes under the bridge of
appearances, it takes an almost cubist turn
through ninety degrees. It enters the delta
from the north, between the lecture halls,
forms the classical three-fingered
"goose's foot," and flows into the broken
infinity of the ocean.
Superimposed on the valley's image is the
hypostyle. This is most apparent in the
Main Hall, but it occurs along the entire
floor. A particularly noticeable "column
scar" occurs just inside the west entry.