It’s back-to-school time, America. In just a few weeks, some college students will be heading to campuses that are idyllic little slices of heaven soaked in perfect academic majesty.
Other students aren’t so lucky. They will be headed to flawed slices of hell.
The college campuses below are the ugliest in the United States.
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.”
What the hell is the NJIT campus, and what does it want? This slapdash, disorganized place is a further blot on the lackluster landscape of Newark. One building looks vaguely like a cosmetics factory festooned with red umbrellas. Another looks like a rainbow of Lincoln Logs. Still another was a former asylum for orphans. And so on, with zero cohesion.
CUNY Hunter is a bleak, cheerless commuter dump designed largely in the architecturally-criminal Brutalist style. Windows are few. The whole setup reeks of the worst aspects of the Carter era.
UT-Knoxville has some nice features. It also has some real eyesores. The whole place is garishly orange. There are just too many bland, vaguely ugly buildings peppering campus. The main library looks like a LEGO prison. This is no stately Southern campus.
The admissions people at Carnegie Mellon can hoodwink you with some pictures of pretty buildings on this campus. Do not be fooled. Too many CMU buildings are hideous. Some are ominous and bordering on inhumanely totalitarian.
The atmosphere on Drexel’s campus ranges from dreary to very dreary. There is little in the way of grass. And then there’s the surrounding awfulness of Philadelphia.
The surrounding area is beautiful and all, and the UCSD campus has some nice features, but there’s way too much concrete. The repugnant main library looks like a cross between a spaceship and an especially drab head of broccoli.
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.
Schools that are famous for engineering and schools built after World War II both tend to be unattractive. Harvey Mudd is a hardcore engineering school founded in 1955. The school is incredibly wealthy, though, and located in beautiful Southern California. There’s no excuse for it to look like an office complex somewhere in the depths of New Jersey.
Boring modernist rectangles proliferate on this mostly post-World War II era monstrosity of a campus. There’s also a weird-looking castle-like thing.
Rutgers is a huge, spread-out campus and some niches of it are quite pretty. However, haphazard design, an utter lack of coherence, and too many unsightly buildings add up to a depressing whole.
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.
The campus of RIT is a cold, drab, wind-swept sea of identically ugly, identically repressive brick buildings. Hilariously, like several other schools on this list, the school boasts an architecture program.
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.
The main campus at SUNY Albany has been hailed by architecture critics as a formal masterpiece. If “formal” means a desolate, soulless morass of concrete, then that description is very apt.
In 1968, when Boston’s hideous City Hall was unveiled, someone reportedly shrieked, “What the hell is that?” If you like such grotesque dumps, though, you can revel in a campus full of Brutalist spectacles some 50 miles away at UMass Dartmouth.
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.
(Photo credits: Creative Commons/John Phelan, YouTube screenshot/NJIT, Creative Commons/Beyond My Ken, Creative Commons/Zereshk, Creative Commons/Jared Luxenberg, public domain/Daderot, Creative Commons/FASTILY, public domain/Lion Hirth, public domain/TythosEternal, YouTube screenshot/Wanda Kaluza, public domain/Metallurgist, Creative Commons/Hied5, Creative Commons/Tomwsulcer, Creative Commons/Jared Benedict, Creative Commons/Beyond My Ken, public domain/Paininthebass, public domain/Nashvilleneighbor)