Thesis statement: the ugliest building on campus is almost always the Humanities building. And if it's not, then Humanities is usually in the top 3 ugliest.
Historiann mentions her building in her post today on why national reputation for scholarship may (::gasp!::) be even better than a winning team. Yet in spite of this, which gets the better facilities? Here's her aside about her own building:
Let’s just say that although Clark is a notorious eyesore and menace to the health, safety, and comfort of its denizens (who include faculty, students, and staff, as it is a building with both classrooms and departmental offices), we didn’t get a $250 million renovation. All we got was an exterior paint job (which helped to a surprising degree), a new HVAC system (because the old one kept flooding faculty offices!), and new carpeting in some corridors that looks like it was a remainder from the Carpet Barn.Yup, sounds about right. And it's not just Baa Ram U., is it? Humanities buildings seem to have been designed by someone conducting an experiment on how architecture can drain your will to live. Permit me to illustrate with a tale from the horrific humanities building where I was a grad student. It will sound like one of those academic urban legends, and that's what I thought it was, even though I was there... until I saw the actual historic documentation of the original plans. Fer reals. So, here goes:
Way back in the 60s, the University of State decided that they were going to build an impressive building according to the model of the time. It was going to be of the most modern concrete! It would have its own underground parking! There would be a plaza out front, and a skyscraper tower with commanding views of the town and beyond! Yay!!! So they dug the foundations, and the two underground garage floors, and built the plaza, and the mezzanine, and got to work on the first tier of the skyscraper above.
Except... they didn't consult a geologist, so it came as a huge surprise when the building began to twist and move down the hill because the rock below turned out to be not strong enough to support even one story of concrete skyscraper.
What to do? Why, cap off the one-story "tower" and convert the underground levels into faculty and grad student offices, of course!
Now, capping off the tower helped, but it didn't completely solve the problem. No, siree. See, the thing was already pretty heavy. So ever since that time, it's been ever so slowly continuing to twist and move. This has resulted in (among other things):
- Torqued elevator shafts: you could count on getting stuck between floors at least once during the course of the semester.
- Twisted supports for the acoustic tiling on the ceilings, and wildly canted floors, even two stories underground.
- Freakish plumbing: my office mate had a urinal shoot water outwards at him (right before class!), and one memorable summer, all the sprinklers on the T.A. floor turned on, soaking everything.
- One result of the soaking was that the threadbare carpet rotted away. Once it dried out, the cut away the rotten bits and patched it. No mold/mildew abatement was ever done.
And, of course, it continues to be ass-ugly.
So, how about you? Share your architectural horror stories in the comments below! And bonus points to people who don't know who I am who can identify (in code, please) the building I describe above.