U. GLY: The least attractive college campuses in America

Eric Owens | Editor

Some college campuses are idyllic little slices of heaven that seem soaked in perfect academic majesty. Others, not so much. These campuses are on the ugly side. A few are like flawed slices of hell.

Enjoy!

 

Prison or SUNY Purchase?

Prison or SUNY Purchase?

1. Purchase College, State University of New York

SUNY Purchase feels like a modern interpretation of a medieval fortress, or perhaps a repurposed maximum security prison. Naturally, several of its 1960s-era buildings were designed by famous architects.

 

The soul-crushing library at UMass Dartmouth

The soul-crushing library at UMass Dartmouth

2. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Boston City Hall, built in 1968, is widely regarded as one of the ugliest buildings in the world. The mayor gasped in horror when plans were initially unveiled. Someone else shrieked, “What the hell is that?” If you like Boston City Hall, though, you can revel in a campus full of the same brutalist spectacles some 50 miles away at UMass Dartmouth. Not to be confused with Dartmouth College, of which President Dwight Eisenhower said in 1953, “This is what a college should look like.”

 

Cold, sterile SUNY Albany

Cold, sterile SUNY Albany

3. University at Albany – State University of New York

Architecture critics have hailed the main campus at SUNY Albany as a formal masterpiece. If “formal” means a desolate, soulless morass of concrete, then that description is very apt.

 

Hampshire hippies deserve better architecture

Hampshire hippies deserve better architecture

4. Hampshire College

Established in 1970, Hampshire College is something of an ode to prison-esque architectural style. It’s as if the designers went out of their way to create loathsome, inhuman edifices.

 

Cold, drab, wind-swept Rochester Institute of Technology

Cold, drab, wind-swept Rochester Institute of Technology

5. Rochester Institute of Technology

The campus of RIT is a cold, drab, wind-swept sea of identically ugly red brick buildings. Hilariously, like several other schools on this list, the school boasts an architecture program.

 

Drexel’s campus ranges from dreary to very dreary.

Drexel’s campus ranges from dreary to very dreary.

6. Drexel University

Everything here is sort of a garish orange, and there is little in the way of grass.

 

Ugly, beige, Harvey Mudd

Ugly, beige, Harvey Mudd

7. Harvey Mudd College

Schools that are famous for engineering and those built after World War II tend to be similarly unattractive. Harvey Mudd is a hardcore engineering school founded in 1955. Even if you aren’t cut out for the rigors of HMC, you can do the math on this one.

 

What did you expect from New Jersey's flagship university?

Rutgers. What did you expect from New Jersey’s flagship university?

8. Rutgers University (New Brunswick)

Rutgers is a huge, spread-out campus, and some niches of it are quite pretty. But haphazard design, an utter lack of coherence and too many unsightly buildings add up to a depressing whole.

 

Oppression in Amherst

Oppression at UMass Amherst

9. University of Massachusetts Amherst

The overall campus at UMass Amherst really isn’t so bad, but a couple of East German functionalist-style structures make the whole landscape feel oppressive. And having the much prettier Amherst College down the road from the state school’s flagship campus doesn’t help.

 

Brandeis: for lovers of boring rectangles

Brandeis: for lovers of boring rectangles

10. Brandeis University

Most of Brandeis University was constructed in the post-World War II era, and it shows. Boring modernist rectangles proliferate.

 

The slab of cement that is UIC

The slab of cement that is UIC

11. University of Illinois at Chicago

UIC has made some strides toward what almost passes for attractiveness in recent years, but at its core, it remains a cluster of bleak, dispiriting concrete monstrosities flanked on two sides by multi-lane highways.

 

MIT. What is it with Massachusetts and ugly campuses?

MIT. What is it with Massachusetts and ugly campuses?

12. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The buildings at MIT are eclectic enough, but too many of them are either straight out of the 1970s or ghastly in some other way.

 

Close encounters of the hideous kind at UCSD

Close encounters of the hideous kind at UCSD

13. University of California San Diego

The surrounding area is beautiful and all, and the UCSD campus has some nice features, but there’s just too much concrete. The repugnant main library looks like a cross between a spaceship and an especially drab head of broccoli.

 

Boston University is Big and Ugly.

Boston University is Big and Ugly.

14. Boston University

Few universities located in big cities are much to write home about, but there is arguably nothing about Boston University that is aesthetically pleasing. Not for nothing does BU also stand for “big and ugly.”

 

Ithaca College is far from gorgeous.

Ithaca College is far from gorgeous.

15. Ithaca College

“Ithaca is gorges,” the slogan goes, but Ithaca College is not. While the landscaping is respectable enough, the buildings are set far apart. and too many of them are eyesores.

 

UT-Dallas. In a word: repugnant.

UT-Dallas. In a word: repugnant.

16. University of Texas at Dallas

UT-Dallas is trying hard to modernize, but it’s still mostly a sad collection of atrocious 1970s-era buildings.

 

The stark, aseptic campus of Illinois Tech is the world’s greatest concentration of Mies van der Rohe buildings.

The stark, aseptic campus of Illinois Tech is the world’s greatest concentration of Mies van der Rohe buildings.

17. Illinois Institute of Technology

Over the course of a few decades, famed minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe was able to make his vision of what a modern college campus should look like a reality. Sadly, students at IIT must now live with that reality.

 

IUPUI in Indianapolis is a cement lover’s dream.

IUPUI in Indianapolis is a cement lover’s dream.

18. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

This epic mound of poured cement in downtown Indianapolis is a campus that only the architect’s mother could love.

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