Heart of Campus

Platt Campus Center Living Room

The Platt Campus Center is one of Harvey Mudd’s most lived-in spaces. Dedicated in 1964, it was the College’s dining hall until 2005, when the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons opened.

Bottom left: Platt Campus Center circa 1967

The addition of modular tables, chairs and wallboards makes the Living Room a hospitable place for doing team projects, like producing a school newspaper. Jonah Cartwright ’20, Michael Streinz ’20, Max Maleno ’20 and William Teav’19 take a break from their studies to review their assignments for an upcoming edition of the Muddraker.

The Harvey Mudd College Seal, created in 1960 by Thomas Jamieson, represents the various ideals of the College. The sun represents energy; the elliptical Mobius strip represents structure; the dividers represent measurement; the inner and outer ellipses can be interpreted as orbital paths, suggesting concern with space; and the globe denotes the humanities and civilization. The dividers are placed in the design to bridge the gap between the sun and the globe, symbolizing the measure of energy and matter as well as the measure of humans and civilization.

A brand new, high-end AV system—including a 15.6’ retractable screen, 4K laser projector and surround-sound system adaptable to a variety of events from movies to presentations, and even small concerts—has enhanced the use of the Living Room to include additional recreational events, while also creating a more robust space. These upgrades, made possible by the Witte family in remembrance of Tristan Witte ’18, have created what Tristan’s classmates have affectionately named the Shibby Theater (For Tristan and his friends, “shibby,” which essentially means “chill,” was a favorite moniker, adjective, verb and general expression.).

The mural adorning the north wall of Platt Campus Center was painted by former Claremont resident and master watercolorist Milford Zornes (1908–2008). After soaking a 44- x 33-foot piece of watercolor paper in his bathtub, Zornes rolled it onto an aluminum backing and painted—in three days—a landscape depicting the coast from Northern California down to the Mexico border. A Pasadena physician purchased the work for $35,000 but instead of hanging it in his medical clinic, he donated it to Harvey Mudd during the 1980s. Read more about Zornes, who visited Harvey Mudd in 2005 and was interviewed by Harvey Mudd College Magazine.

What’s a living room without a disco ball? Boring. Lucky for HMC students, that’s not the case in Platt. The mirrored ball is inconspicuous in daylight, but when turned on after hours its sparkling reflections are a welcome flourish to Wednesday Nighters (billed by DSA Muchachos as “a showcase for student talents or lack thereof”) and other events.

The most noticeable element of the refurbishment is the 24 new couches, which replaced the old, broken-in couches with their deep cushions and brass rivets. Students have resolved to overcome the new couches’ too-springy cushions: “We just need to dedicate ourselves to breaking in these new couches in. Have a DSA event where we just punch the couches,” says one student. The original couches, rivets and all, are still available for lounging on in various areas around campus, including in Linde Residence Hall and the Office of Institutional Diversity, housed adjacent the Living Room, on the north side of the Platt Campus Center.

The Office of Institutional Diversity serves as a social justice education hub for the Harvey Mudd community. It’s also a nice place to meet new friends as there are always people gathered there. OID’s regular educational programming aimed at increasing awareness, allyship and action takes many forms, from lectures on race, gender and feminism to street dancing workshops.

Students seeking work-life balance and resources to thrive head to this office (Assistant Dean Michelle Harrison’s) or to one nearby (Associate Dean Rae Chresfield’s). In addition to psycho-educational programming—like a Disney-themed wellness party, Fresh Check days and stress ball crafting—they provide crisis management, referrals, support and advocacy.

The former servery area was located in the space the mailroom now occupies. Diners were served cafeteria style, with separate stations for salad bar, drinks and dessert. During 1983, when this photo was taken, 30 fulltime employees served 1,000 meals each day. Today, 52 fulltime employees serve about 2,000 meals daily in the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons. And, of course, dining options have expanded quite a bit.