I love Parks and Recreation. I love Barnard. It seems only fitting to find ways to relate my favorite show to the place I now call home.
As a transfer student, I cannot tell you how grateful I was for Barnard’s tiny campus and small number of buildings. Disregarding the Barnard tunnels, which I still don’t have entirely figured out, it wasn’t long before I figured out that Barnard is basically a rectangle made up of five buildings: Barnard Hall, The Milstein Center, Altschul Hall, Milbank Hall, and The Diana Center. I’m going to exclude dorms from this list because I have never lived on campus, but we’ll consider Futter Field an honorary building because it completes the rectangle. Unfortunately, Barnard’s small size is a double-edged sword; We’re going to have to leave some characters out, as there are just not enough buildings for everyone. So, here we go! My definitive list of Barnard buildings as characters from Parks and Recreation:
The Milstein Center = Leslie Knope: This one seems like a given to me, so I’ll put it first. Leslie is brilliant and dedicated to her work and her friends. The Milstein Center is arguably the most well-designed building on campus, especially in terms of functionality. With a coffee shop on the bottom, enough floors and seating options to provide comfortable study spaces for anyone in need, and a direct link to the Barnard tunnels for easy access to all other buildings, The Milstein Center is the star of our show. Though she may not be perfect and certainly has room for improvement, the Milstein Center gets the Leslie Knope badge of honor. She is my favorite Workplace Proximity Associate. That being said, I do apologize to Leslie for comparing her to a library, as I know that would probably be the last thing she’d want. But hey, it’s a great building!
Milbank Hall = Ron Swanson: Milbank is the oldest building on campus. It’s beautiful and feels like the quintessential college campus building: old and brick with lots of columns and pretty decorations. Like Ron, it’s a staple of our campus, and it has a lot of heart. Barnard doesn’t really seem complete without Milbank, and the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department certainly would not be complete without Ron. That being said, Milbank definitely has its issues. The elevators never seem to work, the air conditioning is all over the place, and there is literally a floor that cannot be reached by elevator, thus making it inaccessible to many of those on campus. It’s stuck in its ways and seems unwilling to change, even when improvements clearly need to be made. If there’s one word to describe Ron Swanson, it is certainly stubborn, and the comparisons seem pretty clear.
Altschul Hall = April Ludgate: I honestly don’t even know what Altschul is. It feels so mysterious, almost like it’s trying to hide from the campus. I’ve heard it has a lot of science labs, and I had an NSOP meeting in there once, but other than that, all I know is that it’s dark and cold and feels like it’s trying to scare me away. On the other hand, the bottom floor does have some cool furniture and nice places to study, and the foosball table is worth noting. It’s kind of lovable in its own sort of way, and I would imagine it has a special place in the hearts of STEM students. Similarly, April is dark, mysterious, and always trying to push people away. Despite this, she is an objective favorite among fans (myself included) for her relatability, and she’s incredibly fun to watch, even when she’s not really trying. Thus, for its complex mix of mystery, darkness, and lovability, Altschul hall is April Ludgate.
Futter Field = Andy Dwyer: Futter Field is certainly not the sprawling spread of greenery that many people picture when they imagine hanging out on the college “quad,” but it is definitely trying its gosh darn best to be your friend on a sunny day and a place to escape from the constant glare of florescent lights and indoor air. Just the same, Andy is like a breath of fresh air. He is constantly well-meaning, lovable as a puppy, and just trying his best, even when he doesn’t really know quite what’s going on. We gravitate toward Futter Field because it provides a sort of refuge from the monotony and stress of classrooms and educational buildings, just as we love Andy for his comedic relief from the pain of local politics and frustrations of municipal work.
The Diana Center = Ann Perkins: The Diana Center is great! Mostly. I like to think of it as our version of a student center, with a classic college café, lots of places to study and work, a dining hall, an event space, and a smattering of classrooms. That being said, half the time I don’t know what is going on in Diana. Why are there random chairs everywhere? Why is there a giant beam in the center of the first floor? What are the projects lining the halls of various floors? Why does the elevator always make me feel carsick? Ann seemed to enter the show to be a sort of “normal” foil to the craziness of the Parks and Recreation department, but as she became more entangled in the lives of the main characters, it became clear that she certainly does not have it all together. She’s a mess, but she’s a lovable mess, and that’s why she’s The Diana Center.
Barnard Hall = Chris Traeger: I just feel like Barnard Hall is trying so hard. It wants to be there for all of us, with a dining hall, pretty brick exterior, and a gym, but for all of its effort, there’s something…meh about it. What is the LeFrak Center? Why is the bottom floor so hot all the time? Why is the water fountain always broken? Why are the classrooms so small? So, it seems pretty fitting that Chris Traeger is Barnard Hall. He’s a ray of light in otherwise frustrating moments, always trying to stay positive and find the best in a situation, but he’s also kind of falling apart at the seams and doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He’s definitely lovable, but also kind of annoying at times. Also, I just felt like the building with the gym should probably go to Chris regardless of its other qualities, so I feel like that works out well.
So, there it is folks! Let me know what you think of my assignments in the comments, and feel free to share your own!
Parks and Recreation picture via Flickr