Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2008/08/15 University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

DLH and I had been discussing a visit with some colleagues at Penn.  I was in the New York area on business, so I dropped off my rental car in NJ, and he picked me up to ride together down to Philadelphia.  We arrived early, so DLH gave me a tour.  On the northwest corner of 34th and Chestnut Streets, we encountered the Wave Forms (2007) sculptures by Dennis Oppenheim, an installation of public conceptual art … filled in with summer greenery.

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Across the street on the southwest corner is the U. Penn. Law School, which has a history dating back to Benjamin Franklin in 1740 … lending support to the description of a “Philadelphia lawyer” back to 1788.

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On the southeast corner, Fisher Bennett Hall houses some of the departments of the School of Arts and Sciences.

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Entering the campus walking southwest, Blanche P. Levy Park is a well-kept and inviting place for a stroll.

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Since DLH studied architecture at Penn, he pointed out the Fisher Fine Arts Library.  The structure has had many additions, with a history of varying opinions of the design as innovative or as a behemoth.

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Completed in 1890, the building was originally the central library for the university, and has since undergone many additions and renovations.

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The admonishment that “Talkers are no greater doers” is appropriate for a quiet venue.

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While the exterior of the building is somewhat intimidating, the interior main hall looks comfortable for long hours with the books.

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Just north of the library, Meyerson Hall is a more modest building for the School of Design.

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Walking through the campus, random displays of art are a welcome surprise, such as this canoe sculpture.

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There’s a LOVE pop art sculpture on campus … which turns out to just one of many renditions at various sites around the world.

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The alumni association at Penn must be very active, with the class of 2002 supporting a garden (or a wall).

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After a break for coffee, we headed over the Organizational Dynamics program.  We didn’t expect that we would be meeting in the unofficial Russell Ackoff archives.  Since Russ is emeritus (retired) from the university, his plaques and books are being kept at Organizational Dynamics Graduate School.

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DLH, Larry, Johnnie and I discussed common interests.  We’re all connected through the larger community of the systems sciences, so we tend to have compatible perspectives on the world.  The Organizational Dynamics program is a graduate program within the School of Arts and Science for working professionals.  I discovered that Larry grew up in Toronto, and knew Queen Street West really well.

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The visit to Penn was one short day, but worth making better connections.  Electronic communications keep us in touch, but there’s always a different feeling when visiting a university campus.

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