North-Central Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (2425 April 2008)
Paper No. 20-12
Presentation Time: 11:40 AM-12:00 PM


VELBEL, Michael A., Department of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 206 Natural Science Building, East Lansing, MI 48824-1115,

The use of geological building materials was the main focal theme of an Honors College Research Seminar at Michigan State University during academic year 2007-2008. In addition to the lead instructor (a geologist), resource persons who provided perspective on scholarly approaches to architecture included museum directors with expertise in material folk culture and the history of public art, an art historian, and (for an engineering and maintenance perspective) a senior campus administrator for campus facilities. Major resources for students included images and documents in Museum and official University archives. Student projects included historical studies of campus buildings and landscapes, studies of material degradation, and production of educational materials about historic campus buildings and building groups. A survey (using maintenance records) of materials used in exteriors of campus buildings revealed the distribution of brick, Indiana limestone, granite, and a variety of common, exotic and local stone in campus buildings. A number of projects investigated design, materials selection, and histories of major dormitory complexes and athletic buildings, and renovation, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse of the small late-19th century buildings of MSU's original Laboratory Row. One study examined stone decay in pairwise comparison of older and newer buildings; another examined experimental salt weathering of Lake Superior Red Sandstone using different de-icing compounds and compared the experimental results with observations from a century-old campus building with architectural application (and decay) of this regionally widespread stone type. One project discovered documentation of controversy nearly a century ago involving plans (by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted) to turn MSU's circular old campus into an arrangement of buildings around a quadrangle (plans that were eventually rejected). Several students prepared illustrated informational trifold brochures (and a more detailed guidebook) of the campus icon carillon tower and a sample of buildings on the oldest part of campus, for use in campus tours; these have already been used in alumni activities including Grandparents University. Nearly 25% of the student posters won awards at the annual University research forum.

North-Central Section - 42nd Annual Meeting (2425 April 2008)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 20
Cultural Geology: Building Stones, Historic Cement and Mortar, and Archaeological Materials
Casino Aztar Conference Center: Walnut E
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Friday, 25 April 2008

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 40, No. 5, p. 65

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