182° Public buildings are the prostitutes of the world of architecture. In today’s world, buildings are named after the person who gives the most money. I can live with that, because the family name associated with the building will eventually take on a life of its own. The name will be shortened, abbreviated, or changed completely by the people who use it. Few will know anything about the person for which it was named.
On the campus of the University of Nevada in Reno, the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center will join the Pennington Health Sciences Building and the Pennington Medical Education Building. If you haven’t guessed it by now Pennington was a Nevada gaming tycoon. Since the newest Pennington building will be near the center of campus, it would not be surprising if it becomes referred to as Penn Center, but time will tell.
What I do take issue with is the rest of the name. Some organizations seem to be in a contest for the most complicated building name. The University of Nevada must be winning. “Student Achievement Center” is one of those titles that scream, we’re-trying-to-disguise-the-reason-this-building-exists. The National Security Agency doesn’t have a building they call ‘Spy Operations,’ but you know they have at least one.
In this case, the name is used to refer to all those programs and services that are required to help Nevada’s under educated high school graduates. It’s a great idea and I can understand why they wouldn’t call it ‘Pennington Stupid Students Senter,’ but isn’t the university being a little optimistic by calling it an ‘Achievement Center?’
I guess if they called it for what it is, no one would give money for the building, but if smart people don’t understand the name, how are the intellectually challenged going to understand it? Maybe they should call it the Pennington Party Center and put neon signs in the windows that say, “Free Beer,” and “Ladies Nite.” The students who need ‘achievement services’ will be able to find it blindfolded with one leg tied behind their back.