“ReInventing the Breezeway” Open Forum – Tuesday, April 15! You’re Invited!
Members and friends of the FAU community are cordially invited to participate in the “ReInventing the Breezeway” open forum in the Great Hall of the Marleen and Harold Forkas Alumni Center (building #94) on Tuesday, April 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with designated time slots for various groups. (See schedule below.) If you can’t make it at the time set aside for your group, feel free to attend any time during the day.
Refreshments will be served and FAU promotional items will be given away.
- 9:30 – 11 a.m. – Alumni and External Community
- 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Students
- 1:30 – 3 p.m. – Faculty and Staff
- 3:15 – 4 p.m. – Wrap-up discussion led by the project architects MC Harry & Associates, Inc.
Reasonable accommodations should be requested of the Office of Planning and Construction at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-297-3141 at least five business days prior to the event.
ReInventing ‘Main Street FAU’ – The Breezeway
When Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in the fall of 1964, the Boca Raton campus still looked a lot like the Army airbase it had once been. The first few buildings stood on more than 1,000 treeless acres criss-crossed by concrete runways that had seen the steady arrival and departure of heavy aircraft during World War II. FAU’s 867-member founding student body was served by the Library, the Learning Resources Building, the Sanson Science Building and General Classrooms South. The architectural feature linking these few structures was a long, covered outdoor walkway that was immediately dubbed “the Breezeway.” It soon became the favorite – and, in truth, the only – informal gathering place for students.
“Meet me on the Breezeway” became a frequently heard refrain. There was no cafeteria, so students gravitated to the vending machines that had been set up along the Breezeway to get candy bars, coffee, soft drinks and – for those who were truly desperate for something resembling a meal – cellophane-wrapped, condiment-less, dry as a bone sandwiches.
The first bookstore was a tiny square room that stood at the southern end of the Breezeway. It was too small to hold anything approaching a full inventory of books, so students went there primarily to place orders for the books they needed and hope that they’d arrive by the second or third week of classes. Faculty members often helped bridge the gap by placing the texts they were using on library reserve to allow students to make photocopies of assigned chapters.
The Breezeway was the one shady place on the sun-baked Boca campus, and, as its name suggests, it caught the occasional cool breeze. Students sat on its benches exchanging class notes or just talking, they dashed down its length to get to class on time and they took refuge there on rainy days.
On October 25, 1964, the Breezeway hosted a famous guest: President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had come to take part in FAU’s dedication ceremony. His presence gave FAU the distinction of being one of the few universities in the country to be dedicated by a sitting chief executive of the United States. A photograph taken on that day shows President Johnson striding down the Breezeway toward the speakers’ platform, smiling broadly as he spoke into a radio reporter’s microphone.
Through five decades, the Breezeway scene has reflected changes that were taking place in the nation as a whole. A time-lapse video would show a parade of hundreds of thousands of FAU students dressed in everything from tie-dye shirts and bellbottom jeans to backwards baseball caps and six-inch platform shoes. While most would be on foot, some would be on bicycles, skates, scooters or skateboards. The kaleidoscope of activities would include health fairs, voter registration drives, the famous annual bed race, planned and impromptu entertainers, food vendors, and, of course, an almost endless succession of sidewalk tables offering passersby information on hundreds of organizations, events and causes.
From Day One, the Breezeway has been Main Street FAU. Now it’s time for the iconic pedestrian thoroughfare to build upon its rich history and get a whole new 21st century look.