The four excedras, one in each corner of The Great Court, were a modern take on versions from ancient Greece and Rome that were meant to foster conversation by placing curved stone seating in a semicircle.  The Great Court’s excedras were full circles with a number of openings, and each sat on raised squares made of alternating shades of granite that radiated outward.  At night, the inside and outside of each excedra was lit for dramatic effect.

The acoustics inside the excedras were said to be excellent.  A speaker required no amplification to be heard clearly, even with the nearby expressways and typical city noises.

Rather than replicating the design four times, the Great Court held three different styles of excedras on two different styles of raised granite squares:

Excedra Types

Northwest — introverted excedra in two semicircles with the seating facing outward to the east and west.  Walter Netsch said the purpose of this positioning was to enable “girl watching.”  This excedra also sat on a raised granite square of a different pattern from the other three excedras.  In this version four half sunbursts radiated toward each corner.

Northeast and Southwest — these excedras were identical.  Broken into four sections, each seating area faced a cardinal direction.  The granite squares featured a sunburst pattern that radiated toward the edges.

Southeast — two semicircles with seating that faced east and west and the granite sunburst pattern that radiated toward the edges.


For more, see these UIC ARCHIVES collections:

  • 086 Photograph Subject File
  • 070-00-01 Chicago Illini (student newspaper)
  • 003-21-02 Office of the UIC Historian — Research and Administrative Records

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