Lux Libertas in Perpetuity: Historic Preservation at UNC
Wendy Hillis, Campus Historic Preservation Architect
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
2012 Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture
Download Wendy Hillis's Coates Lecture with photos of buildings included.
Thanks to all of you for coming tonight. I like to specifically thank Jay Gaidmore for first approaching me with the opportunity to be the 2012 lecturer, as well as Linda Jacobson and Jennie Rose Halperin for putting together the exhibit that I hope you all had chance to view before this presentation. I would also like to thank five individuals who were invaluable to me as I researched this presentation and gathered information on the history of the university: John Sanders, Jonathan Howes, Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser, Myrick Howard and Catherine Bishir.
This is a lecture in four parts. The first is a general overview of the historic buildings that remain on campus today. The second is a discussion of the development of a self-conscious interest in the university's history and what has been done to protect the built artifacts of that history within the last century. The third part is a brief discussion of why preserving historic buildings should be important to the modern research university, and the fourth is a roadmap for the future, identifying what we should do to further enhance our commitment to Carolina's history. My hope is that several of you in the audience this evening will be moved to help me bring this final agenda to fruition.
Carolina's campus is a veritable architectural history textbook, encompassing works by important American architects as well as two centuries of architectural styles. I arrived on campus a little more than three years ago with the opinion that my alma mater, the University of Virginia, was the most beautiful college campus in America. How wrong I was. Carolina has not only seduced me with her beauty, but the richness of her architectural variety and historical context is without peer. I only note that it is a true shame that an architectural history class is not available to students on this campus on a regular basis.
The architectural summary that follows is by no means complete. Due to time constraints, I will focus primarily on those building located on central campus, omit most residence halls, and focus in detail only on those structures I personally find most interesting. One of the nicest things about giving a lecture in this format, as opposed to the campus tours I give a few times a year, is that I can address the buildings chronologically (when giving a walking tour I always lament that the buildings are not sited in a chronological manner) and can share historic photos of the places we know today.
I assume that everyone in the audience is well aware that Carolina is the oldest public university in the country. The cornerstone of the first building, Old East, was laid in 1793 and the building was completed in 1795. Of course, the building we see today is very different from the building that was originally constructed. In the upper left hand corner of this slide is a drawing of that original building. You will notice that it is only 2/3 as long as the existing structure and 2/3 as tall. This was a multipurpose building that contained living quarters for students and staff as well as a classroom; its plain, unornamented facade (basically a box with windows) is typical of the early American Federal style.
Daily chapel attendance was mandatory in the University's first century, and Person Hall, completed in 1797, served as the University's first chapel. The original building was quite different from this historic photograph, taken sometime after 1891, which is also very different from the building we see today. When used as a chapel, Person was comprised of just this portion of the building we see here to the east. It was expanded starting in 1886 and again in 1891 for use by the chemistry department. The photo shows a whitewash coating on the bricks that was first installed in 1840 and removed in the 1930s.
One of my favorite quotes from Gordon Rutherford, the retired director of Facilities Planning, is "the one thing we used to say is everybody wanted the campus to be like it was when they were there. Two problems with that —they weren't all here at the same time, and it was never the way they perceive it to be anyway." To that end, as I continue to go through these slides, I'll point out that none of the existing buildings looks like it did originally; either the buildings have been drastically altered or the landscape and context surrounding them has drastically changed.
This is the building that took 16 years to complete. Started in 1798, budget constraints delayed its finish until 1814. During the interim, students often "camped" in its unfinished shell. Like Old East, this was intended to be a multipurpose building and was designed in the utilitarian Federal style. Its floor plan and overall appearance show reference to Princeton University's Nassau Hall, which is not surprising given that several of Carolina's original trustees came from Princeton. The decorative elements you see on the building today date to 1898 (north side) and 1922 (south side).
This companion building to Old East was constructed in 1822. While this photo shows the configuration we know today, the original building was only 2/3 as long (basically two adjacent row houses) and 3 stories tall. A third floor was added to Old East concurrent with this construction.
Gerard Hall, completed in 1837, was the campuses' second chapel and was the building that faced the wrong way, with a portico on its south side, for the first 65 years of its life. The portico shown in this photograph was constructed with the assumption that Cameron Avenue would be routed along the south side of the building. Instead, the road was installed to the north and this building faced the wrong way until this portico was removed in 1900. Not 20 years after that removal, the campus did start expanding to the south and in 2007 this portico was rebuilt, based largely on this photograph.
In the mid-19th century, a very famous American architect came to the university. Alexander Jackson Davis was a New York resident who came to prominence in the 1820s. He was active in landscape design as well as architecture, was widely published in contemporary books and magazines, and was one of the most influential architects in America. He was first introduced to the University in 1831, though his first built project, the addition of monumental facades at the north ends of Old East and Old West didn't occur until 1844. At that time he also added Italianate details (fanciful brackets supporting broadly overhanging eaves and the flat-roofed lanterns of the debating society rooms) on these two historic buildings.
Historic Playmaker's Theatre
Designed by AJ Davis and competed in 1851, Smith Hall (now known as Historic Playmakers Theatre), was the campus' first consolidated library. This space also doubled as a ballroom, as the bookshelves around the outer walls could be covered with curtains for special occasions. This Greek revival design (the building is basically a Greek temple) is most notable for its column capitals decorated with American grains of corn and wheat instead of the acanthus leaves on traditional Corinthian columns. This is one of Davis' few remaining public structures, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
New East and New West
Constructed in 1861, these were the last two buildings constructed on campus before the Civil War. Like many of the existing buildings at the time of their construction, they were multi-purpose. Unlike previous buildings, these structures expressed their use on the exterior; the central, protruding blocks contained classrooms and the literary society halls, while the smaller, lower wings contained student dormitory rooms. Like the details AJ Davis added to Old East and Old West, these buildings are Italianate in style.
The symbol of Carolina—the Old Well—has existed in some form since the university's earliest days, when it literally served as the campuses' primary water source. It took on its current appearance in 1897 when President Alderman decided that it deserved a more polished appearance and installed a tempietto—a small temple form based on various classical precedents—over the working well. The well remained until the 1920s when it was replaced by a drinking fountain. The current structure dates to the 1950s.
The campuses' first sole-purpose dormitory, Carr Building, was completed in 1900 and was the second building constructed after the Civil War. Its Romanesque style, most visible in the layered arches surrounding its entrances, differs significantly from other buildings on campus. It is the first building constructed of a cream-colored glazed brick that would be used on campus for the next 20 years.
In 1901, architect Frank Millburn came to Chapel Hill and designed every building on campus for the next 14 years. The majority of his buildings are classically-inspired and constructed of the beige brick with black iron spots that I just mentioned, though there are some notable exceptions. Examples of his typical structures include Alumni Hall (1901); Howell Hall (1906), originally home to the chemistry department; Caldwell Hall (1912), originally the medical school; and Swain Hall (1914), the university dining hall, constructed in a stripped-down collegiate gothic style.
Mary Ann Smith Building
One of my favorite Millburn buildings, in fact one of my favorite buildings, period, is the Mary Ann Smith Building, which was completed in 1901. Originally constructed as a dormitory, the Flemish influence seen here with the rounded end gables results in an odd building unlike anything else we have on campus. I love it not only for its unique aesthetic but because it's the building people often forget about; it's forlorn, down at the heel, and desperately in need of my help!
Bynum Hall (1905), the university's first gymnasium, is another example of a Millburn classic in beige brick.
Hill Hall (1907), the University's second and first sole-purpose library, is an example of Beaux-Arts classicism. Its French influences are most clearly shown in its mansard roof and the carved cartouche over the doorway. What I find most interesting is that this was a Carnegie Library. At the turn of the century, industrialist Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of public libraries across the county through a matching grant program. Hill Hall is one of 40 college libraries that were funded in this manner. Due to rapidly growing collections, this building only served its purpose as a library for 20 years, and Wilson Library was constructed to replace it in 1928. In 1930 this building was renovated and enlarged with funding from Mr. John Sprunt Hill (the benefactor who gave the University the Carolina Inn) and became Hill Music Hall.
Built in 1907, the Campus Y is Millburn's unique version of French Gothic, with exterior crenulation, pointed arch windows, and a church-like interior space in the south wing. What I love most about this building is that it doesn't match the others on campus. This was the first building that served as a campus student union and provided meeting space for student groups.
Davie Hall, constructed in 1908, is a Classically-inspired Millburn design. You may not recognize the building on the left because it currently looks like the image on the right. If you look at the little piece of a building sticking out behind the left side of the modern structure, that's the same piece you see at the left side of the historic photograph. That piece is a small wing of the original building that still exists. Unfortunately the main volume of the building, fronting Cameron Avenue, was demolished and replaced in the 1960s.
Battle, Vance and Pettigrew Halls were constructed in 1912 in the English Tudor style. Originally dormitories, the design is based loosely (very loosely) on the quad buildings at the University of Pennsylvania. Their claim to fame is that Andy Griffith lived here while a student at Carolina.
Peabody Hall (1913) is a building that confounded me as I was putting together this lecture, as my records showed it still existed, but I wasn't sure I had ever seen it. Problem solved: this is what you see today, and is the building I knew, which dates to 1960. This little historic structure does still exist though and is tucked behind the large addition.
Phillips Hall, completed in 1919 and designed by architect C.C. Cook, was the first non-Millburn building constructed on campus after a 15-year run. The building is much larger than buildings constructed up to this time and its style is Collegiate Gothic at its fullest expression.
Steele Building (1921) is the first structure designed in the Colonial Revival style that became the campus standard for most of the next century. It is a dormitory building, constructed as 3 row-houses, and was the first building to start to frame the space that became Polk Place to the south of South Building.
Polk Place - McKim Meade and White
The 1920s mark a huge change in the campus growth and aesthetic. Not only does a second quad, Polk Place, rise to the south side of South Building, southern colonial revival becomes the campus-standard architectural style. For the first time in 80 years, buildings of a unified style are constructed at the university.
The selection of this standard style is first mentioned in a 1921 report to the Building Committee which states, "We should likewise consider it unwise to accept any considerable concern as to the architectural styles - in general or in detail - of other colleges. Too many institutions are burdened with the expensive fallacy that higher education may be properly housed only in mediaeval surroundings. Others are marked as often by architectural mistakes as by examples worthy of emulation. In the University's Old Row and in the Georgian architecture of the South at large is sufficient material for your needs."
It is important at this juncture to note that the Carolina experience is defined not only by its buildings, but by the landscape that holds them together. I like to contrast the landscape of McCorkle Place, shown here on the left, with Polk Place, shown here on the right. McCorkle Place is a remnant forest, with trees strewn naturally throughout its open space. It contains a wide variety of building styles, constructed over a century to ever-changing master plans. In contrast, Polk Place is a study in axial organization and symmetry. Buildings and landscape are mirrored around a central axis that runs from South Building, down to Wilson Library and the Bell Tower.
This quad was master-planned in 1922 by the New York firm McKim Meade and White, the most famous American architectural firm at the turn of the century. McKim Meade and White designed numerous college campuses, most notably Columbia University in New York City. Their master plan for Polk Place, showing colonial revival brick buildings, mirrored on a central axis, was built out over a 40 year period.
In stark contrast to the colonial revival symmetry of Polk Place is Wilson Library. I love this picture because it shows just how small this library was when first constructed. We are, of course, accustomed to seeing this building with massive additions that were constructed to its south side in 1952 and 1977. Also take note of the natural "grit" path in front of the building; the brick paving we see today on Polk and McCorkle places today was not added until the 1950s.
The choice of a classically inspired limestone exterior for this building, that contrasts with the red brick colonial revival exteriors on the remainder of Polk Place, was a conscious choice. The building's placement at the end of the axis, its grand facade and elegant materials assert its importance in the hierarchy of the ensemble.
Returning to McCorkle Place, we find the Graham Memorial, a colonial revival structure constructed in 1931 on a lot abutting Franklin Street that had been the site of a private hotel and tavern for the university's first 100 years. Graham Memorial was the first student union on campus and provided a place for students to meet and study. I am always amazed by how little the grand lounge in this building has changed over the years, as its current condition is very similar to historic photographs.
The Memorial Hall that we see today was constructed 1931 and replaced an older building of grand gothic proportions.
The first planetarium on a university campus was completed in 1948 and gained a sizeable addition to its east side in 1971. Filling a blank space on the east side of McCorkle place, it was constructed in the same Colonial Revival style used on Polk Place.
Last but not least, we have Dey Hall, the last building constructed on Polk Place in 1962. I give this building its own slide to make the specific point that buildings on Polk Place, though included in 1922 master plan, were built over a 40-year period. I think it is notable that just as this building, a colonial-revival design that matches the others on Polk Place, is being completed, the University is embarking on new projects, such as House Undergraduate Library and the Student Union, that drastically altered the accepted architectural aesthetic on campus.
When did the university develop a self-conscious interest in its own history? And specifically, when did its status as the country's oldest public university lead to a decision to save, rather than tear down its original buildings?
The first indication I see of this mentality is in the 1920s with the decision to save and renovate Old East, Old West, New East, New West, South Building and Smith Hall (now Historic Playmakers Theatre). I was hoping to find a definitive, heartfelt statement about the importance of these buildings in the records of the times. Of course, I didn't. The University Building Committee minutes dated April 18, 1923 say only "After discussing repairs on the old buildings, Dr. Chase moved seconded by Mr. Everett that the sum of $125,000 be set aside for renovating six old brick buildings...." This is definitely not the spectacular historic moment for which I had hoped. And while these buildings were saved in that time period, the work done to them would in no way meet current historic preservation standards, as they were basically gutted down to their brick shells and filled with new steel and concrete structures.
In some cases the exteriors of the buildings were radically changed as well. A good example of this is New East. The drawing on the left shows the building facade before this renovation and the drawing on the right shows the facade after. As you compare the two, you begin to see subtle differences between them: the building entrances were moved from the side bays to the center of the building, the windows on the third and fourth floors were revised to clearly differentiate the two levels, the roof eaves were enhanced, and the windows of the lantern at the top of the building were enlarged.
Radical changes to historic buildings occurred well into the 1960s, when a variety of large additions that often overshadowed the historic structures they augmented, popped up at Hill, Swain, Peabody, Carroll and Davie Halls. Of these, I think that the Carroll Hall addition is the most successful; it is a modern style that both complements and contrasts with the historic structure, and is completely invisible from Carroll Hall's primary (east) facade facing Polk Place. As I mentioned previously, I think the addition to Peabody Hall is especially egregious as it completely eclipses the historic structure. Granted, the historic building remains relatively intact, but it is so hidden that I didn't even know if existed until quite recently. The other two on this slide, Hill and Swain, are simply oversized and their colonial revival additions appear to be jammed up against the historic structures.
Of course, the mother of all additions occurred at Davie Hall, where only a small annex of the original structure was retained and the primary building volume, facing Cameron Avenue, was radically changed. Our current master plan proscribes demolition and replacement of this entire structure. While I understand that decision, I have come to appreciate Davie as an excellent example of mid-century modern architecture that soon (if not now) will be worthy of preservation in its own right.
National Register Historic District
The first action of the modern preservation movement occurred in 1971 with the listing of the Chapel Hill Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. This district nomination, written by state architectural historian Catherine Bishir, encompassed private properties from Rosemary Street on the north to South Building on the South and included all of McCorkle Place.
At the time of the listing, the National Register was a new program, established in 1968, and this nomination simply identified what people already knew was historic within Chapel Hill. In the National Register's early years, the State of North Carolina imposed no restrictions on such listings. That has changed, and now state law requires that any proposed changes to state-owned buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places be reviewed and approved by the Office of State Archives and History. In addition, the Town of Chapel Hill Historic District overlay also requires review by the Town's Historic District Commission.
Historic Preservation Manager
Historic preservation became a true campus priority in 2002, when Chancellor Moeser created the position I now hold, recognizing that a cohesive strategy for the treatment of historic buildings on campus had yet to be established. That this appointment coincided with the beginning of the University's 10-year, $2.3 billion capital improvement program was no accident and my predecessor, Paul Kapp, successfully advocated for the appropriate treatment of historic buildings during this period of expansion. Paul was employed as the University's Historic Preservation Manager for seven years, and had the opportunity to work on the renovation of multiple historic buildings during his tenure.
The most transformative change of this period occurred at the Campus Y. This is a building that was close to being torn down only 10-15 years ago because it did not match other campus buildings; some argued that it should be replaced with a colonial revival structure that mirrored Steele Hall across the quad, while others argued that a wood frame building like this had no place on a safe and modern campus. It was largely the pressures of politically active, passionate alumni that kept this from happening. This building has played an important role in the undergraduate experience of politically active students for over a century, and saving this building was as much related to its architectural history as its social history.
I think that those who advocated for its renovation were correct. This is now an actively used, lovely building with spectacular interior spaces. How could anyone ever have thought that this should have been torn down? Looking at these photos, the thought that comes to my mind is the number of buildings we still have on campus with spaces this dismal. And how many of them could look this fabulous with a renovation?
One of the things we now try to do when we renovate buildings is identify the original paint colors by viewing paint samples under a microscope and restoring this color whenever possible. I have two examples of this work on this slide.
- At the top I have New East. This exterior renovation was completed in 2005. The before color is what I like to call "pepto-bismol pink" and I'm unsure of its origins. The building has had a variety of colors over the years, but historic analysis shows us that it was originally cream colored with dark brown trim. These are the colors to which we returned it, and New West, in 2005.
- Battle Vance and Pettigrew Halls, shown on the bottom of this slide, were subject to an exterior renovation within the past year. Before the renovation, windows and doors and other trim items were painted cream to match the cream-colored brick walls. Analysis shows that the windows and doors were originally painted a dark brown. We restored the original colors as part of the recent work, which I think gives the structure more depth and contrast.
Perhaps the most controversial of all paint analysis projects (if paint analysis can be controversial) occurred just five years ago at Old Playmakers Theatre. Until that point, the exterior color of the building was based on a paint analysis conducted in the 1980s. Unfortunately, technology at that time did not provide an accurate result and the building was, like New East and New West, painted pepto-bismol pink. As if that was not enough of an affront, the paints used were chemically unstable and the colors had changed over the years to what I call a "splotchy, day-glo orange-Tang".
A 2006 analysis showed that the original exterior paint colors, at least the colors that existed in the 1920s when this building was converted into a theater and the facade altered, were a cream and dark brown similar to those found at New East and New West. Unfortunately this project "went live" not long after New East and New West were repainted and the public response to the change of those paint colors was not positive (not because they were unattractive - in my opinion the cream and dark brown were an aesthetic improvement over the pink - but because people were attached to what they "knew"). Following these changes, there were discussions among the Board of Trustees as to whether or not we should, by default, restore all buildings to their original colors. As a result of these discussions, the building's current colors, shown in the photo to the right, are a compromise between the 1980s pink and the 2006 analysis results.
Recent work on historic buildings includes the replacement of exterior doors on Polk Place with historic replicas. An example of this work occurs at Bingham hall where we replaced 1960's era steel doors with replicas of the original wood double doors. We used the original 1920s construction documents as a basis for the new design and matched the proportions, dimensions and molding profiles on the original.
Just because we've renovated buildings doesn't mean that we've eliminated all maintenance concerns. Buildings age and change with the seasons and water infiltration and biological growth create conditions that we must constantly address:
- We had a section of exterior plaster fail just this past year at the Campus Y. This failure is adjacent to a roof downspout so my theory is that this area was getting wet due to a clogged downspout and that this eventually caused the plaster to disintegrate.
- At the north facade of New East, we have a constant problem with biological growth, as sections are damp and shady which creates an environment conducive to moss growth. When allowed to remain for extended periods, this moss invades the plaster exterior causing damage that must be repaired.
- The UNC Masonry Shop is responsible for the repairs to exterior plaster (like those areas I just mentioned) as well as the repointing of mortar joints in brick buildings. I am very happy to announce that we've recently received a $10,000 grant from the Covington Foundation to train this team in historic materials and techniques.
- Lastly, wood windows require regular scheduled maintenance to maintain their operability and appearance.
PART III - Why is Preservation Important?
Why should historic preservation be important to the modern research institution? The university is not a museum and its mission is education and research, not historic preservation. It is a living entity that continually changes and has a population that turns over, on average, every four years. Who cares about the past? In response, I provide four compelling reasons:
- Our historic buildings are a tangible link to our history.
- Our historic buildings create a continuity of the Carolina experience that transcends age and graduation date.
- Our historic campus is what makes Carolina "Carolina" and differentiates us from our competitors. (As lovely as our new buildings are, few people will ever take their graduation picture in front of the new science building. Almost everyone will, however, take a graduation picture in front of the Old Well).
- The reuse of our historic buildings is an important component of our campus sustainability strategy.
This last point is important. Our current campus culture is focused on sustainability and energy efficiency, yet often overlooks the importance of historic buildings as part of the strategy to meet these goals. First of all, historic buildings can be made energy efficient. Because they were often built before the advent of central air conditioning, their design already takes advantage of passive heating and cooling strategies, such as large overhangs and operable windows. Second, existing buildings contain embodied energy; that is, the energy required to create the materials from which they are built, transport these materials to the site, and construct them. Current studies show that, if we account for embodied energy in the overall lifecycle of buildings, it takes a new energy efficient building, on average, 80 years to compensate for the climate change impacts created by its construction.
PART IV - Looking to the Future
Looking to the future, our first priority should be increasing available funding for both the maintenance and renovation of our historic buildings. In addition to state appropriations (which are never enough) and possible bond funding, private donations play a key part in our programming. To date, we have relied upon the generosity of a handful of donors who have often given large sums for the renovations the University's historic structures. This needs to change. While we treasure the donors we have, a more robust historic preservation development fund should be established. As an example, I submit the University of Virginia, which has a dedicated historic preservation development officer, an associated website, and a variety of funds from which donors can choose. The benefits of a program like this include:
- Development of funds for both maintenance and renovations
- The opportunity to prioritize and promote specific renovation projects
- Participation of a broader range of donors through the use of an annual fund, and
- Public relations and education offered by the historic preservation website.
A program meeting these needs should absolutely be a component of the development office's overall strategy in the next decade.
Our second priority should be the expansion of the existing National Register Historic District to include the buildings on Polk Place as well as the Bell Tower (the areas shown crosshatched on the map). Unfortunately, this becomes a bit of a political discussion, as listing on the National Register triggers State Archives review of any project proposed within its limits, as well as Town Historic District review of these properties. While I will point out that such review has not had a negative effect on the disposition of the UNC properties currently listed on the Register, some decision makers balk at the idea of adding additional review and restrictions. I argue that the university, as an educational institution, has a responsibility to recognize formally and protect its history by taking part in a federal program designed for this purpose.
There has also been some discussion with the Office of State Archives about creating a National Historic Landmark District. This type of district is of greater national importance than a typical National Register of Historic Places designation and would encompass Old East and West, the Old Well, South Building, Gerrard, and Historic Playmakers Theatre. Most of these buildings have been extensively renovated and are great examples of how Carolina carefully stewards its historic properties. Including these in a National Landmark District would be a great honor for this campus and an exceptional way to kick off a historic preservation fundraising campaign.
We still have plenty of buildings left to renovate. Howell Hall, Mary Ann Smith Building, Caldwell Hall, Swain Hall, Phillips Hall, Carr Building, and Hill Hall are those in the most dire need of attention, but the list is extensive.
Of course, we also need resources to manage the ongoing maintenance of these structures. Looking to the future, I am concerned about the maintenance impact made by the doubling of our square footage on campus in the last decade as part of the $2.3 billion capital program. We never have enough maintenance money to address all of our issues, and these new buildings have sophisticated materials and systems that will not be forgiving when problems arise. I worry that a decade from now, as these new buildings start to age and require major maintenance, they will siphon maintenance funds away from the historic buildings, specifically because the historic buildings are so forgiving. You can hold some of our older buildings together with rubber bands and chewing gum, and we've been doing that for decades. If we have inadvertently created a situation where necessary resources will be diverted from these structures, then we need to look at creating a secondary funding source dedicated to their protection.
Lastly, one of the projects I would like to make happen is the re-appropriation and renovation of Old Playmakers Theater as the University Visitors Center. This is one of the most architecturally important buildings that we have on campus, yet we do not treat it with the dignity it deserves. This is a building that appears in every American architectural history textbook; it is a jewel, and in its present condition we treat it like someone's basement. The daily comings and goings of students and visitors would enliven this structure, which at-present is not open on a daily basis, and give the student body access to this architectural gem. Restoring the building's original 1851 interior would allow ample space for visitor center functions, including exhibits on campus history, and would be a stellar example of Carolina's commitment to the continued use and stewardship of its historic resources.
I'd like to thank you again for coming this evening. It's always encouraging to have people express an interest in my profession and the projects about which I am passionate.