Rodger Mallison The Formal Foyer of the Director’s Annex. pretentious. All the furnishings are new, or at least newly-purchased. Every nook and cranny displays the trappings of extreme wealth, fresh-bought riches you wouldn’t expect to find these days outside of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Abu Dhabi. The $1.4 million Annex has at least an additional $765,000 in furnishings, according to Battalion research. The walls of the formal foyer are travertine marble, not to mention the marble pilasters which stand, apropos to nothing, along each of the four foyer walls. On either side of the front door is a pedestal with an Italian marble bust of a on the opposite wall are two large 18th Century Italian oil paintings, depicting There is a Pahlmann-designed oval carpet the center of the carpet is a round table holding a large vase of metal flowers. The vase may well be the $9,068 cloisonne dathg to 1740. Moving from the foyer into a small reception room you see a bronze sculpture, smattering of oriental rugs, and a $5,040 English Sheraton mahogany bookcase complete with $400 worth of decorative books “of various sizes and subjects.” The first floor also contains a large board conference room, a grandiose dining room, men’s and women’s “telephone rooms,” a kitchen, and several small anterooms. The second floor has twelve residential suites, nine for the directors and three extras. The directors’ conference room is considerably more ornate than the Regents’ Room in the Main Building at UT-Austin. The walls are covered with “Etruscan” red velvet linen. A 17th Century eight-panel Japanese silkscreen screen for slide presentation. The obligatory bluebonnet painting is Julian Onderdonk’s “Miles of Bluebonnets” The dining room is breath-taking. The day the Observer toured the Annex, the $4,500 19th Century Chippendale table was set with white linen, a sampling of the Annex’s 450 pieces of sterling silver flatware, Picard china, and silver candlabras containing little white beaded flowers designed by Pahlmann himself. In case the directors want to have a few friends in for dinner, there are 18 English-style folding chairs costing $480 each. Both the conference room and the dining room have fake fireplaces surrounded by cozy clusters of wing chairs and fine wooden coffee tables. Other downstairs furnishings include a pair of 18th Century English Gainsborough tables, a $4;900 William IV circular table, a $2,200 Louis XIV oak armoire \(for coats carved wood statute of Kwan Yin, a $2,200 Tiffany lamp, Chinese mandarin and porcelain figures, assorted pewter, crystal, and bronze chandeliers, and $35,000 worth of marble. The rugs, of course, are Oriental, including a $2,500 Heriz, a $9,000 Tabriz, and a $2,500 Bidjar. Furniture styles include Early Victorian, ” American Federalist, William IV, George III, Louis XIV, Italian Renaissance, Chinese Taokuang, Chippendale, Georgian, English Country, and Regency. Pahlmann’s decorative style requires that virtually every foot of vacant wall space be covered by a mirror, a set of prints, a tapestry, a light fixture, or a painting. One hallway is decorated with 10 Indian paintings by Observer counted nine framed prints in a single restroom. The elevator that whisks the Aggie directors to their private suites on the second floor is papered with rust/beige “Canestreli” material and on top of that there’s wainscoting and a decorative mirror flanked by two prints. The 12 suites on the second floor each have a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and small kitchen with refrigerator and hot plate. The directors’ names are engraved on ornate brass plates on the doors of the suites. A guide from the A&M president’s office explained that the directors’ suites are for their personal use, on those six yearly official visits, plus those occasions when the directors or their friends wish to attend football games or other Aggie events. Very special guests, such as legislators, also will be allowed to stay in the DirectOrs’ Annex. President Gerald Ford has slept there. The downstairs facilities will occasionally be used for receptions, but more often than not the Annex will be locked and vacant. One must get special permission from the A&M administration to tour the area. ConstruCtion, furnishing, and operating expenses for the Annex come out of the available university fund and out of legislative appropriations. The $490,000 Former Students’ Wing was financed solely by private funds. The exes paid Pahlmann between $15,000 and $20,000 to decorate the wing, which is in the student center building. Pahlmann abandoned his “Southwestern motif” in favor of a Scottish plaid decor in honor of the family tartan of James M. “Cop” Forsyth, a former Aggie who gave a large donation for construction of the wing. There may be an economic crisis in the construction business, but the news has yet to reach A&M. Perhaps in order to keep up with The University of Texas, the Aggies are rapidly covering their grassy grounds with cement. There’s a massive brick wall going up to separate town from gown on one side of the campus. Brick arches and a new drill area are near completion in front of the corps’ dormitories. One large construction project labeled “low density housing” is well underway, and rumor has it that a new library may be in the offing. A&M could certainly use a new library. The Clapp-Jordan formula for measuring the quality of academic libraries puts the Aggie library at 29, the bottom-most ranking among the state’s 29 public universities. The Association of Research Libraries ranks the A&M nationally as number 74 out of 81 schools in total library expenditures. Such figures might lead one to conclude that it is time for the A&M directors to stop worrying so much about building fancy digs in which to hold meetings and start worrying more about the quality of education the school is providing. Part of the Permanent University Fund, after all, can be spent on “academic excellence.” K.N.
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