More frequently than one might guess, the question pops up: Is the Emory Quadrangle deliberately shaped like a Coke bottle? Given the historic and long relationship of Emory College and Emory University to the Candlers, the Woodruffs, and the Coca-Cola Company, the question is understandable.
Here is Exhibit A—the Quad.
Here is Exhibit B, which needs no explanation.
Here’s what I know. Emory University received its charter in DeKalb County on January 25, 1915. The Emory board of trustees commissioned Henry Hornbostel to design the new campus of the University in 1915. The Coca-Cola Company patented its uniquely shaped bottle in 1915. Coincidence?
I think so but am uncertain.
Let’s start with the design by Hornbostel. He originally intended the Quad area to be a large courtyard between what is now Convocation Hall and what is now Carlos Hall, closest to the bottom of the image below. He envisioned a tall and grand building where the flagpole now rises from the center of the Quad, but of course that expensive structure was never built. Beyond that tower Hornbostel extended a lawn stretching toward where Candler Library now stands. Had that large central building been constructed, there would be no bottle-like shape at all.
Moreover, the 1915 Coca-Cola bottle, shown below, was much fatter in the middle than the current bottle and was shaped rather like a python that swallowed a rabbit. (The Coca-Cola Company website offers a timeline with images of the different bottles used for the beverage.) So had Hornbostel wanted to imitate that 1915 bottle, the Quad would have looked very different—more round in the middle and pinched at the ends.
The current configuration of the Quad came about somewhat haphazardly. The Callaway Center South opened in 1919 as the Physics Building and was renovated and renamed in 1993. The building across from it opened more than three decades later, as the History Building (renovated and renamed Bowden Hall in 1991). This was long after the roadway circling the Quad—Kilgo Circle (now mostly gone)—was already in place. So Bowden Hall had to fit between the roadway and the Quad.
If campus planners had wanted to shape the Quad to look like a Coke bottle, they certainly failed. As the campus map below shows, the “top of the bottle,” between Callaway and Bowden, is not perfectly symmetrical, and the middle of the Quad doesn’t have the curvature of the Coke bottle.
If anything, the Quad looks more like an old-fashioned milk bottle than a Coca-Cola bottle.
Is the Coke-bottle Quad a real thing? Probably not. But thinking about it offers a pause that refreshes.