Smith's folly

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(Image: Architects at work, 1920) It was once called “Smith’s folly.” In 1917, Thomas E. French, preparing for the possibility of a large public work, had invited to campus the architect Howard Dwight Smith, a civil engineer and Ohio State alum known for designing Long Island and Fifth Avenue mansions. Now, with a dedicated plot of land and a growing pot of cash, Smith was tapped to design the new Stadium. He drew a U-form design, combining attributes of the two largest football stadiums of the day: those of Harvard and Yale. Yale’s bowl was effectively a pit ringed with concrete seats: it had maximal capacity, but little access to air and light. Harvard’s field had large permanent bleachers running the length of the field; open at both ends, it had less seating, but contained 220-yard straightaways on its quarter-mile track.