Star Trek Architecture

My daily commute takes me through the Princeton Battlefield State Park. One of the more interesting landmarks in this park is this isolated colonnade.

Mercer Manor Colonnade at Princeton Battlefield State Park

Does it look familiar? If you’re a Star Trek viewer, it just might. Everytime the Enterprise came in contact with a world that resembled Ancient Greece, there would usually be only one unconvincing example of Greek architecture in sight and nothing else, like this one from “Who Mourns for Adonais?”

Apollo’s temple from Star Trek

Driving into Princeton two weeks ago, I made mention to Dean of the colonnade passing on our left, noting its resemblance to the above Star Trek set piece. This drove him into hysterics—more hysterics than usual.

And this wasn’t the first time in Mercer County that I received this reaction. In 2000, co-workers at the State Council on the Arts in Trenton found the comparison equally amusing when applied to this (then in-progress) structure.

A metal structure on the New Jersey Statehouse Grounds

If you stand on State Street between the Statehouse Annex and the New Jersey State Museum, this enormous “metal gazebo” is the only structure between you and Pennsylvania. Like the colonnade without a house, this is also an isolated, empty looking structure. Like the Star Trek set, it looks awkwardly artificial.

I’d like to think that we all aren’t just laughing at a Star Trek in-joke; we’re laughing about architecture. The gazebo and colonnade are both a little unreal, and if we saw Captain Kirk fighting in either place on television, we would all say, “That looks so fake.” Yet we’ve accepted the battlefield colonnade since 1957 (when the Manor it was attached to was destroyed) and the gazebo since 2000. Not only is truth stranger than fiction, it’s faker.

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