WITH so much new constructions and structural improvements within the University, can the Main Building, the defining symbol of the University, catch up?

In the “First Forum on Conservation and Re-Development of the UST Campus Towards 2011” held at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center last September 29 to 30, architects Clarissa Avendaño and Willa Solomon expressed that new buildings like the Student Center and the Alfred Velayo College of Accountancy being erected are not affirmed in the University’s campus planning.

Avendaño emphasized the significance of the structures of the building in UST in the past. She named the Main Building that was built in 1923, as the first building to be earthquake proof in the Philippines and the UST gym, built in 1933 with its art deco designs was the most modern sports facility in Asia at that time.

Former Department of Tourism secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta also expressed the importance of saving structures that contain artistic value citing how Far Eastern University was able to conserve their buildings. Cruz-Araneta also explained that they are trying to avoid the demolition of significant buildings like the Jai-Alai building, which was named as one of the best Art Deco buldings of the modern times, but was destroyed in 2002.

Cruz-Araneta has raised an effort to form a conservation advocacy group that pursues to restore certain old schools scattered within the country. Among these schools are the Baguio State University and the Rizal Elementary School in Bacolod City.

Different speakers in the forum lamented their memories of how UST was like physically, culturally and even naturally, at the time when they were still students. Institute of Physical Education and Athletics director Prof. Felicitas Francisco and College of Science Dean Dr. Fortunato Sevilla III, reminisced such memories as the park that was in front of the St. Raymond’s Building and the division of students by gender. Rector Father Tamerlaine Lana OP, also expressed the significant importance of the University, and shared that it has been coveted by other sectors.

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“Never in the wild imaginations of the Dominicans, that they would entertain an idea to give up this campus for its obvious historical value and socio—cultural and religious heritage that UST has,” Lana said.

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