I first visited Adams Hall on a quest to find my own white whale: the perfect Bowdoin study space. Convinced that the right location was all I needed to reach peak productivity, I found myself, dripping wet, on the stairway leading to the fourth floor one rainy afternoon. I had never been in Adams, but I was hoping that the novel setting would imbue my essay on Socrates with the magical rush of inspiration it so desperately needed.
I’ll admit, my initial impression was less than ideal. I huffed my way up four flights of stairs and sank into one of the red chairs in the glass cube only to notice a highly convenient elevator staring right at me. Upon spinning my chair away in an effort to distract myself from the offending machine, however, I was rewarded with an utterly breathtaking view.
Adams Hall sits right along Bath Road, and much of its brick exterior mirrors that of the first year bricks nearby. However, on the edge of the building is a small, glass-walled sliver of modern architecture that runs up the side like a spine. This glass section of Adams is separated into four study spots, one on each floor. The cube-like areas are bordered on two sides by huge windows that look through the trees and out over the northwest corner of campus.
Many students discover the spaces when attending office hours or classes in the building. Lucy Sydel ’22 loves the atmosphere created by the combination of offices, classrooms and open areas in Adams.
“When you just came from talking to your professor and you can go right there and do work, it’s nice,” says Sydel. “Even if they aren’t your professors, it’s great to feel like there’s work being done.”
Aida Muratoglu ’21 also appreciates the academic atmosphere of the fourth floor of Adams, but jokes that there are some drawbacks to the space.
“The professors kindly asked us to be quieter because they were holding office hours,” Muratoglu said. “In that sense, it is a collaborative space. It kind of feels like there are a lot of offices there, which makes it more academic but not in a stressful way.”
Adams is more secluded than many other study spots on campus, which many students enjoy.
“Typically, I go there when I want to do work by myself because there aren’t that many spots for people, so it’s nice to have your own spot, either to study with one other person or just to be alone,” says Emily Olick Llano ’20.
Because places like Hawthorne-Longfellow Library and David Saul Smith Union are such popular study locations, the quiet spaces in Adams are a rarity, offering valuable places to retreat from the noise.
“I think it’s important to have those places you can go and not see many people, because I feel like very few of those places exist on campus,” said Muratoglu.
And it’s true, the isolation of Adams is rare. I once spent roughly four hours in the space without seeing anyone, a feat that would be quite difficult elsewhere on campus. Yet despite the quiet, it never feels lonely. There’s the rumble of cars on the road behind, the occasional dog running across the grass below and the constant fluttering and swaying of the trees that surround the building. Whether or not you see other people, the space is undeniably alive.
This organic, relaxing feel is partly a product of its location. Adams stands near the edge of the College and occupies a unique niche on the border between campus and downtown Brunswick.
“I like that you can see Brunswick from Adams. If you’re on the top floor, you can look out and see the church and part of Maine street. That’s what I like about it—it feels like a real space and not just a study space,” said Muratoglu.
And perhaps that is the beauty of Adams. On a busy campus like Bowdoin, it is easy to forget about life outside, especially when studying. Finding a space that allows you to focus while reminding you of everything else the world can offer is invaluable, and that is what the glass areas in Adams offer. If you have the energy and time to make it up the stairs, I would highly recommend taking a journey up to the fourth floor, having a seat in a chair and relaxing in front of one of the best views on campus.