Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Susan W. Sykes Portico on Everett Library

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Institution Name: Queens University of Charlotte
Original/Historic Place Name: Susan W. Sykes Portico on Everett Library
Location on Campus: Building 18
Date(s) of Construction:
1960creation of mural Lewandowski, Edward
2000construction of portico as a remodeled fa├žade Jenkins Peer Architects
Designer: Jenkins & Peer Architects; Edward Lewandowski
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Modern/post-WWII, Contemporary (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: exterior: brick
Roof: four ply hot coal tar
ca. 2000-present (2006)other (front entrance to Everett Library)

The original architectural design on the front of the library was a contemporary 1960s white pebble exterior by J.N. Pease & Co. In 2000, Mr. John H. Sykes, Trustee of the University, donated the funds for a new portico. Now a traditional Georgian style façade frames the glass windows, the entrance to the library, and the Lewandowski mural. The limestone columns and brick exterior mirror the architecture of C. C. Hook. The arcade portion of the portico (to the left of the entrance) makes Everett Library handicapped accessible. The portico is dedicated to Mr. Sykes' wife, Susan W. Sykes. The new fountain in front of the library was added in 2002 in honor of retiring President Dr. Billy O. Wireman.

A focal point for the original façade is a 6-by-60-foot mosaic tile mural designed by the American muralist Edmund Lewandowski. At the time of construction, Mr. Lewandowski was the director of the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The mural depicts the fields of knowledge included in an academic library.

Unity of theme is presented in the first, last, and central section. The Alpha on the first panel and the Omega on the last panel relate to the center section, a presentation of religious symbols signifying the Christian affiliation of the University, both in its institutional life and in its educational ideals. All begins and ends in Christ. Between these elements are panels that depict, in order from left to right, mathematics, astronomy and physics, humanities and the social sciences, economics, language and writing, various forms of art, law and government, chemistry, medicine and nursing, agriculture, and philosophy.

The section on mathematics is comprised of four panels employing symbols that are characteristic of various branches of mathematics. The second group of panels, symbolizing astronomy and physics, depict diagrams and formulae characteristic of these fields at different periods in their history. The next nine panels represent the humanities. First comes the Gargantuan calendar depicting various eras of geological time. Next the artist presents a panel on economics as it relates to the field of the social sciences. Ledwandowski used symbols for monetary systems across the world to represent economics. The following three panels represent different forms of language and writing as characteristic of the various literary aspects of culture

Art is represented by the section that has an oval-shaped light background and different symbolic figures from African sculpture and architecture, both Gothic and Romanesque periods. The human figure symbolizes dance, with Greek and Egyptian influences. At the bottom of this symbol is a Greek libation cup. Concluding this series is a panel devoted to the symbols of music.

The central group of panels represents various aspects of religion. One panel depicts the Ichthus which has traditionally represented "Jesus the Savior of Man." The dominant symbol in this group is the cross, which is rendered in black for high contrast and mood. Below the cross are the symbols of the Ten Commandments. On the left is the symbol for Islam; on the right is the Star of David for Judaism; and in the upper right the Chi Rho symbolizing Christ. Ledwandowski also included two half arches characteristic of architectural design in the church.

The next panel is devoted to law and government and the symbols are the balances, gavel, and eagle. Chemistry is represented by symbols of elements, formulae, and structural formulae. Two panels at the right of these typify industry by a stylistic representation of spindles and shuttle, which are drawn from the textile industry (rather appropriate for our geographic location, which is close to the Southern textile industry).

Following this are symbols related to biology, physiology, medicine, and nursing. The panels include forms of cell structures, cross sections of protoplasm, and the suggestion of the human figure, blood types, and symbols characteristic of medicine and nursing. Wheat and a diagram suggesting pollination symbolize food and agriculture.

Next to last are three panels with the names Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. These represent both philosophy and the Western cultural heritage deriving from the Greeks. The Omega closes the mural and refers back to the Alpha on the first panel.

This unique mosaic is composed of 250,000 small pieces of imported Italian tile on a background of broken service marble.


Jenkins Peer, Architects. Everett Library. Project Descriptions for Queens University of Charlotte. [Charlotte, NC: Jenkins Peer, Architects, n.d.], 3.

McEwen, Mildred Morse. Queens College, Yesterday and Today. Charlotte, NC: Queens College Alumnae Association, 1980.


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Last update: November 2006