The strength of arches and pillars has graced Western University of Health Sciences’ Pomona, Calif., campus for more than 25 years.
When they were completed in what is believed to be late 1985, the intent was to enhance the overall appearance of the University by creating a unique campus environment.
But the arches over the Esplanade have recently started showing their age, so on Aug. 22, 2011, the easternmost arch came down.
WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, said that since the arches were built, the campus has become four times bigger than what it was when they were erected, and that leaving the eastern end of the campus open by not replacing the arch would promote the look of expansion.
“”It was good it was taken out, because it was time the architecture reflect what the University is now,”” he said. “”This was the University for a while; now that the arch is down, it’s even more appropriate.””
The original western arch on campus remains intact, but will be examined by engineers for deterioration. The arch marks the grand entrance to the western side of campus, as Second Street ends going east through Pomona’s Antique Row.
If necessary, the western arch could be rebuilt with a metal truss and a new sign, said Todd Clark, executive director of WesternU’s Facilities and Physical Plant.
The arch crossing the Esplanade is likely considered an elliptical arch, flattened and semicircular. It’s similar to the famous Ponte Santa Trinita in Florence, Italy, the oldest elliptical bridge in the world, which spans the River Arno.
Pillars and arches have been a part of architecture since ancient times. Romans refined certain Ancient Greek styles of architecture, and were key to further developing the arch as a viable way of sustaining weight in above-ground structures.
According to a June 15, 1985, Campus Commotion newsletter provided by University Archives, dramatic changes in the campus’ appearance were made by building graceful pillars in an arbor effect, enhancing the exteriors of the various buildings to give the campus a cohesive and balanced look.
In 1985, Dr. Pumerantz said, “”This is another major step forward in the development of our campus environment as one befitting a top-quality osteopathic medical school.””
The pillars and arches were developed by building contractor Rod Wineberg and his associates, the Pomona contractors who did the original renovations to what was then COMP, the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.
According to historical WesternU literature, straight and firm columns represent a portion of the osteopathic philosophy — structure and function, with the body functioning as a unit. They represent strength – a strong, viable institution of higher learning.
The documents also stated the arches are a tribute to the many triumphs that the college has experienced, and of the triumphs of its alumni, who are scattered throughout this nation and the world, bringing healing and wholeness to thousands of people in need.
Eloquently explained in the writings were that architecture, “”takes us in, surrounds us, shapes our lives and protects.””