March 13, 2009

Architects Unleash Wrath of the Beast

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As the architecture students prepare to emerge from Rand Hall, possibly for the first time since January, they will be bringing with them a large unwieldy beast. Dragon Day, the historic day when first year architects parade a mystical creature of their creation around campus, will commence as most students prepare to depart for the break.
You may have seen the publicity around campus — silver eggs being handed out on Ho Plaza, mysterious semi-naked individuals running through your classes covered in green paint and a line of butts up against the Fish Bowl earlier this week. That’s right, this year’s crop of first year architects, body parts and all, have run wild with the recent and historic traditions associated with Dragon Day.
Dragon Day began sometime while Willard Straight, class of 1901, was an architecture student. He decided to bring some Irish pride to Cornell and adorned Lincoln Hall with shamrocks and other lucky shamrocks and other lucky decor. He also headed a small parade to initiate a “College of Architecture Day”, in tribute to St. Patrick driving the snakes and serpents from Ireland. This event evolved into our current tradition.[img_assist|nid=36059|title=Check out this shirt|desc=Taleen Josefsson ’13 sells t-shirts for Dragon Day yesterday on Ho Plaza.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Recent years have produced wild beasts — from an all-black dragon, to a skeletal sculpture made mostly from bamboo, to last year’s duck-shaped dragon made of cups (ironically from the Green Dragon Cafe). These cups represented the hours spent awake doing everything from the construction of the dragon to the mural in the windows of Rand Hall. Those mohawk-ed individuals you see scurrying behind Rand have probably not slept for days.
This year’s first year architects have jumped into traditional Dragon Week events with a mixture of enthusiasm and good humor. In the spirit of the bad economy, this crop of first years are rumored to have sold a hell of a lot of shirts — notably because of their launching of a kitschy website:, which allowed alumni to purchase shirts online.
Dragon Day 2009 briefly seemed hampered by a new New York State law from the Department of Conservation, which regulates open burning. In order to prevent pollution, only solid wood structures are allowed to be burned, which precludes burning cardboard, burlap and paint. However, the architects did not seem to be dissuaded by the inability to destroy their creature, and have created an innovative way to get around the law. Watch out for a special surprise at the end of the dragon’s exodus to the Arts Quad, as the fire will keep on burnin’.
The activities commence tomorrow at noon, when the dragon will make its way from behind Rand Hall along East Ave., down Campus Road, up through Ho Plaza and into its final resting place on the Arts Quad. Rumor has it that engineering students will — in keeping with tradition — create their own mythical animal of choice.
Architecture students will be accompanying the dragon, dressed in a variety of costumes, following their traditional booze-fueled Dragon Day breakfasts. As for the first years, wish them luck, because they have been up all night perfecting their beast.