50@50: Naming FIU’s founding buildings

Early in FIU’s history, before there was ever a student government, President Charles “Chuck” Perry established a committee that would serve as a mediator between the president and the student body.

Then-student Diane Spurlock ’75 was named the chair of the committee and one of the first items the committee was charged with was the naming of the university’s founding buildings. Hoping to reflect the international nature of the university and its student body, the committee named each of the first five buildings in a different language:

  • Primera Casa: Spanish for “first house.” Established in 1969, it was the first building constructed at FIU and President Perry addressed the university on the steps of PC the day FIU officially opened on Sept. 14, 1972.
  • Deuxième Maison: French for “second house,” the building opened shortly after Primera Casa in response to the need for classroom space and currently is home to the Honors College and a number of other departments. DM recently underwent a courtyard transformation with the opening of the “Sky Lounge” in 2013.
  • Athenaeum (now the Green Library): The early version of the Greek word “Athenaeum” was applied to buildings in ancient Greece which were dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the arts.
  • Viertes Haus: German for “fourth house,” it is currently home of the Photo Lab, Stable Isotope Lab and various studios and classrooms.
  • Owa Ehan: Swahili for “fifth house,” Owa Ehan opened in 1977 and housed the first kitchen and dining room on campus, seating 45 for the School of Hotel, Food and Travel Services (now the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Biscayne Bay Campus).

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