Morse College may not have gourmet organic food or a crystal chandelier but, with the addition of an enormous student-designed banner to the room, the Morse College Council said it hopes to infuse more spirit into students’ mealtimes.
The new banner, along with a number of other proposed changes to the dining hall’s interior, is an effort by the council to improve the building’s architectural appearance. The changes are minor enough to be supervised and funded by Morse, Master Frank Keil said, but council members said they hope to inspire personal pride in a building that some residents currently consider ugly.
“We’re making the Morse dining hall a bit brighter, a bit more Morse,” said Dan Ly ’06, co-chair of the college’s Student Activities Committee.
The most significant change is the placement of a large banner hanging vertically on the far wall of the dining hall, facing the courtyard windows. The banner, which is expected to be in place by the end of the semester, will be visible through the windows from the courtyard.
A student-run Interior Design Committee is charged with planning the banner and other changes. Peter Ortner ’05, who leads the committee and created the proposed banner designs, said his goal was to give the dining hall a more personal feel while preserving its Modernist style.
“It’s large-scale, it makes a bold statement, and yet it doesn’t interfere with the architecture,” he said.
The Interior Design Committee also proposed six other improvements to the dining hall: cleaning and repairing a yarn sculpture, replacing the lights, repairing air and water damage to the walls, removing unused speaker brackets and a defunct speaker, and extending the outdoor patio to the dining hall windows. The patio project will require approval and funding from a number of University committees, so it is not expected to be carried out in the short term, Ortner said.
A poster at the entrance to the dining hall outlines the proposals, describing them as “renovations.” However, Keil said that the term “renovation” is an exaggeration.
“It’s just some interior decorating to make the dining hall more colorful,” he said.
Keil was the first to suggest making changes to give Morsels more dining-hall pride, Ortner said.
Ortner, who is majoring in architecture, said the problems addressed in the plan are small details but detract from the simplicity of the building’s Modernist design.
Alicia Kennedy ’07 was pleased with the plan, praising the light replacement especially.
“It feels like we live in a dungeon,” she said.
Shirley Lawrance, who has worked in the Morse dining hall for 16 years, agreed replacing the lights would be a significant improvement. She said the dining hall has always been dark except during Parents’ Weekend, when extra lighting is added. She was also pleased with the planned restoration of the yarn sculpture.
“It looked very nice when it was put up,” she said. “Now, its color is dull, and it’s dusty.”
Elizabeth Brandwood ’07 was not as enthusiastic about the proposals. She expressed concern about the banner designs under consideration.
“The banners are a little bit much,” she said. “They are really bright, which contrasts with everything else around them.”
The Morse community voted over e-mail to choose one of three banner designs. The winning design has not been finalized, however, amid concerns that it does not symbolize enough college spirit, Ly said.