March 28, 2021

DERY | Ranking Cornell Campus’ Quads

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Just as Ithacalves have become a ubiquitous symbol of the Cornellian campus experience on the Hill, so are our quads. I have compiled a list, ordered worst to best, of the glorified courtyards that define the outdoor gathering experience for Cornellians:

6. Engineering Quad

What we have here is not a quad, but an “L”-shaped patch of green spanning the distance from Hollister to Duffield Hall. The first few times I walked across this quad, I assumed it was an intense exam week: everyone was locked in on their laptops. 

Nowadays, the unchanging atmosphere makes me thankful I am not an engineering student. I look to the West and see the incongruous, red tiles that stripe Hollister Hall, reminded by the lack of style that the building was named after a renowned engineer and not the clothing company. I look to the East and see the more modern Duffield Hall, but only because there are rarely any frisbee or Spikeball games to divert my vision. 

The quad’s expanse affords it great potential to be a student fun area, but the fact that it too often acts as an outdoor library puts it just below our next “quad” that isn’t even a quad. If there were several more quads on campus so that I could justify an Honorable Mentions list, the Engineering Quad wouldn’t even appear in the rankings. 

5. Hotelie Quad

Straddling the line between a courtyard and an alleyway, the Hotelie “Quad” houses the Herakles in Ithaka I statue that stands between Uris and Statler Hall. It may not qualify as a quad, yet unlike the Engineering Quad, it doesn’t pretend to be one, nor do its visitors pretend to enjoy their time there. After all, they primarily consist of Terrace-goers standing on a burrito line that pours outside the entrance. Sure, it may be The Terrace’s outdoor waiting room, but the metallic exteriors of both Herakles and Uris Hall give the “non-quad” an eccentric flavor that the Engineering Quad lacks. If Herakles was instead built on the Engineering Quad, it’d require a metallic laptop in front of it and AirPods to fit in.

4. CKB Quad

The Court-Kay-Bauer Quad that lies beneath the CKB sky bridge and extends to Dickson Hall is where freshmen decide to meet up with friends before heading to the Arts Quad. I largely overlooked the quad during my time on North Campus, likely a sign that I have not yet recovered from the overwhelming “First Night on North,” where hundreds of incoming freshmen clustered in this very spot. In fact, since the quad also doubles as the fire drill evacuation point for surrounding dorms, it has earned quite a reputation for inviting droves of disoriented freshmen all at once. Even so, as continued dorm construction appears to have endangered any open patch of grass on North Campus, I can’t get too picky. The CKB Quad is the first bona fide quad on the list, and is the only genuine quad on North Campus. To no fault of its own, the wandering legions of freshmen often seem to look elsewhere to gather outside, leaving the CKB quad at fourth on our list.

3. ILR Quad

As far as quads go, this one certainly skips leg day. But what it lacks in size it compensates for in its cozy atmosphere and convenient location. The ILR quad is isolated from the buzz of East Avenue, and located between The Terrace and Bus Stop Bagels. It’s the ideal outdoor work space, and there always seems to be a vacant table or chair in sight. Though the seating area has been closed during the pandemic, it remains the best study quad on this list.

2. Ag Quad

The plant sciences are housed in the buildings surrounding the quad, and it shows. The surrounding greenery gives this quad a creative touch to mix with its structural symmetry. 

Stretch it out and place it in the heart of Central Campus and the Ag Quad would be Cornell’s best. 

However, for the very reason that the quad is rather distant from South and West campus housing, it’s the place you go only if you’re already there. The Ag Quad is reminiscent of some of the other Universities’ quads I’ve visited in both size and structure, lacking an it-factor to set it apart. 

If we imagine a game of university campus GeoGuessr, the task of identifying an image of this quad would not be as trivial as one of the Arts Quad, especially for a non-student. Since it’s not the first quad that comes to mind for many Cornellians, it ranks as the B-side to the Arts Quad.

1.Arts Quad

After all, streaking the Ag Quad is not of the 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do. We each have our favorite study spots and fond memories that dictate our quad preferences, yet we can all come together to celebrate the Arts Quad at the epitome of the Cornellian’s campus experience. 

The Arts Quad transcends the surrounding architecture and our founders’ statues that preside over it; the ebb and flow of students reclining, studying, and socializing on the Arts Quad is in near-perfect synch with the livelihood of our campus. Though on its own the Arts Quad may not occupy a niche like the other quads, it’s our campus’s beating pulse, and that earns it a spot atop our list. 

Roei Dery is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at rdery@cornellsun.com. The Dery Bar runs every other Monday this semester.