Cheesy on the eyes
Aesthetics of architecture on campus do not live up to rich cultural history
While the eccentric sleep habits of students are widely celebrated, there is no reason to inundate campus with buildings so drab that visitors are hardly able to overcome the severe boredom the structures induce.
Texas A&M is an old campus with a rich history. The older buildings on campus reflect an era where designers paid attention to aesthetics.
Most of the buildings that have been standing in Aggieland for many decades are unique. All Faiths Chapel, one of the most attractive buildings on campus, resembles an open garden. Even the Academic Building, which was built with industrial strength concrete walls, is a distinctive edifice that is nice to look at even though it is practical.
Not all of the older campus buildings are outright beautiful, but they are still special. The MSC, close to thirty years old, was heavily criticized when it was first built. Students complained about the "bunker-style" wall in the main hallway, the bizarre designs on the walls upstairs and the expensive and gaudy cowhide benches. Though maybe unattractive, these features combine to make a distinctive building that is unique to A&M.
Unfortunately, recent additions to the campus landscape are not distinctive, but are better described as "monuments to the architect's boredom."
Most residence halls on campus are merely replicas of each other. If not for an occasional Legett or Hart, visitors would think they were wandering in circles as they tour campus.
The University has spent plenty of money on new campus buildings. Millions of dollars have gone to landscaping, maintenance and replacing the flowers near the Academic Building every time the weather changes, but the University skimps when it comes to aesthetic design. Most of the new buildings are heavy on angles and short on ornamentation.
There are a few hints of attractive design among the new campus structures. The Rec Center has a few rare components making it resemble an air traffic control tower. The Reed Arena has a few corners which have been rounded to make them less offensive. The George Bush Library, however, falls into both categories.
The Bush Museum is certainly striking and photogenic, but the Bush School is blocky and sterile. The school and the conference center are both large buildings. Their intimidating size is only accentuated by the fierce angles and mundane design. Walking down the halls of the Bush School, students wonder if they got lost and wound up in a hospital or perhaps a high school from the late sixties.
Some Aggies are trying to preserve the campus's great architecture. Old Main Society unsuccessfully attempted to prevent demolition of DeWare Field House and Puryear and Law halls.
Saving campus treasures is only a partial solution. The administration should strive to create more attractive buildings.
Campus is growing quickly, and when budgets are stretched anything "pretty" is expendable. Yet administrators should heavily consider how long A&M will be stuck with these ugly campus structures.
A&M has one of the most attractive campuses its size, but serious measures must be taken to make sure it does not soon become one of the largest eyesores in public education.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.