Illini 411: Why is there a pineapple at the top of Foellinger Auditorium?

A pineapple finds its place atop Foellinger Auditorium. (Images courtesy of UI Archives and UI Office of Public Affairs)

A: Don’t reach for your paring knife just yet—Foellinger’s pineapple is 4-1/2 feet tall and made of copper. In the mid-1980s, when Illinois renovated the nearly 80-year-old building, local contractor Hank Hart suggested the idea of a pineapple finial after he noticed pineapple designs on columns across campus. Why pineapples? Hundreds of years ago, European imperialists brought the fruit back from the Caribbean, and it became a luxury item for the wealthy. Later, it evolved into a common sign of hospitality and welcome, and under that guise became a popular feature in architecture around the world.

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