i know what you mean!

University of California, Ugly

Posted on: March 12, 2011

Helen still says “When WE came out here to Berkeley in the 80’s, the campus was SO lovely with its wide open space, green trees, and old buildings…”
Now it’s my turn to lament like an old timer, “When I came out here in the late 90’s, the campust was SO lovely with its wide open space, green trees, and…”
It’s why I came to Berkeley. The open space called out to me. The gentle hills, the old buildings, the slightly grimy looks. I was so homesick and disoriented the first semester, but the campus with its eucalyptus grove, University Ave entrance, open lawn in front of Main Stack (“memorial glade” orsomething), many unobstructed views of the city and the bay…
With the steep rise in tuition and fees came massive level of construction beginning in 2005. One building after another rose up in areas where there shouldn’t be any. The campus is becoming one massive block of concrete with impenetrable view. you can’t really look into the campus, look across the campus, to see students trolling on pathways or playing frisbees on the lawn anymore. All the damn concrete buildings with steel and glass meet your offended gaze instead.
I’m usually not one to complain about growth, expansion, and construction. They give jobs,drive the economy of the community, improve life condition for many involved, I get that. But at the same time, I can’t help lament the ugliness of these buildings and their placement. They all look very similar, though not quite as ugly as Evans Hall. Evans Hall is hands down the ugliest in my opinion, though I think Jim finds the “Green Latrine” more offensive (Soda Hall). These new building are all very tall and imposing, yet they are clearly placed in spots that are not equipted to handle their imposing shadows. Ten years ago, you could stand in one building and cast your gaze far across open sunny lawns or cool shades and see how the university was planned so that one building compliment another, one feature of the campus enhanced another. Now the university slapped one building after another on all of those open lawns and cooled shades, giving your eyes a middle finger. I know the university is out of space. BUT. I think had they decided to build Mainstacks (the main underground library) now instead of years long past, they would not have bothered to think of a 5 story subterranean beauty, so that the view of that building, looking from afar, does not obstruct the Campanelli.

And it’s not just the buildings. They have put up fences in so many places where there used to be open and accessible to the community. Underhill playing fields and Strawberry fields are now completely fenced off too, and I have not had the complete tour of the campus to see what else is also inaccessible.

To me, these buildings and fences represent the attitude of the university these days – money driven and disconnected from its community.

Pictured is Memorial Stadium, now under construction to turn into a new state of the art sport something something something. Basically, a glossy shiny money maker. I was joking to Helen about having a part of Rome outside her windows.


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