U of M is one of the ugliest college campuses, Travel + Leisure says

Categories: Lists, U of M
UMN-Campus-560.jpg
Doesn't look so bad to us...
As anyone who has walked through the Soviet Union-esque concrete jungle that is the West Bank can attest, the University of Minnesota isn't the epitome of beauty.

SEE ALSO: Two U of M students caught having sex inside the Bell Museum

But one of the ugliest campuses in the country? Given the prettiness of the Mississippi River, the classic appeal of parts of the East Bank, and the cool campus-within-a-campus vibe of the area around the Regis Center, that characterization seems a bit strong. Nonetheless, it's the conclusion reached by Travel + Leisure in its list of "America's Ugliest College Campuses."

T + L's methodology is qualitative, so take the U of M's inclusion on the list with an appropriately sized grain of salt, Gopher Nation. T + L's Ivan Spencer writes that he and whoever else put together the list "consulted the Princeton Review, Unigo.com, and other forums where students hotly debate all aspects of campus life" in order to figure out which campuses are the ugliest.

Here's what T + L had to say about the U of M particularly:
Many great architects including Steven Holl and Frank Gehry have tried their hand at turning the commuter campus of the University of Minnesota from Brutalist to Pritzker Prize-worthy. It's no small feat. Take, for example, the Coffman Memorial Building: the only feature that could make it look more industrial would be the addition of smokestacks. With more than 30,000 undergraduates all on one campus, the University of Minnesota is the one of the most populous in the country. "It's simply too big," complains one student on the Unigo.com message board.
Sure, Coffman might fall short of the Platonic ideal of beautiful architecture, but really, who cares when you've got both a Chick-fil-A and a Jamba Juice inside the damn thing?

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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96 comments
portoqwerty2
portoqwerty2

Surprising. I mean, if you take a few camera phone pics with terrible lighting like the one in the photo, sure it might not look so great. but there are parts of the U of MN TC campus that are absolutely gorgeous. I have seen many amazingly beautiful pictures of the U of MN campus. It is even funnier because they mention cauffman union which sits right next to a world famous piece of architecture, that hasn't only gotten the U of MN attention but also has gotten Minneapolis attention internationally for having it. But i guess critiquing more than a couple buildings  would have required the author to do some actual journalism. 

Patrick Wallace
Patrick Wallace

Bullshit. Also, it's one of the biggest campuses in the country, so... what the fuck? We're not two buildings in a groomed park. Also, some of us happen to /like/ Soviet architecture.

Mary Wertz
Mary Wertz

Its all in the eye of the beholdr. I love this place, so it is beautiful.

Cathy Kinyon Egan
Cathy Kinyon Egan

Having attended that cement-heavy, crowded campus for 9 years, I can say that it contributed to one of my core values: substance matters, appearance doesn't. I love that school and will support it for my entire life.

Some_Guy
Some_Guy

As a former U of Mer now going to a different school and having visited numerous other campuses across the country, the East Bank is like a pile of leftover vomit from a night when modern architecture got too drunk, tried to barf in the Mississippi and missed. Let's take a virtual stroll down Washington Ave after crossing the river from the West Bank - keep in mind that this is the main thoroughfare of campus. This street should scream "leading research institution" at every corner.

First you have the blinding metallic fortress of WAM seated across from the new STSS building, which attempts some of its own shininess but ultimately ends up clashing. As you pass under the two shiny bridges, you have the entirely forgettable Kolthoff Hall on the left and the gopher-shaped Coffman Union on the right. Since when did making a building shaped like a gopher's head make it beautiful? Just another interesting factoid to distract from the butt-ugliness of Coffman.

Side note: there's a Chick-fil-A in Coffman? Oh right, it's hiding behind the massive line for Panda Express, because nobody in MN gives a flying cluck about some homophobe's chicken sandwiches.

Moving on - as we turn to the left we have The Mall, the last remaining bastion of traditional college architecture in a sea of confused blah. Then, in rapid succession: Hasselmo Hall, a nondescript glass-and-brick monolith; and the Molecular Biology building, equally lacking in character save for the hulking pastel-colored ball-and-stick non-molecule erected out front. Before we get to the really juicy part, let's take a quick glance to our left and notice that the formerly boring Amundson Hall has replaced their windows - with gigantic, finned (that's right, there are windows sticking sideways out of the building) plate glass windows that change color from "maroon" to "gold" as you pass by on the new light rail. Oh wait, at second glance it appears that they change from purple to stale piss. Better luck next time.

And we have arrived. The shot heard round the world. The face that launched a thousand ships. The... obtuse, top-heavy, military-bunker-grey, sore thumb of a building that juts out of the horizon like pride rock in the Lion King. Except no baby lions will be hoisted upon its back. Just med students. Bouncy, caffeinated med students. I am referring, of course, to Moos Tower. It is said to be the most identifiable building on campus. Yes, in the sense that the giant mole on your face is the most identifiable feature of your face.

As we proceed into the outer rim of campus, oh wait, we forgot to consider the parking ramp across the street from Moos Tower. It looks like a parking ramp, but by comparison with Moos Tower, it might look like the most genius piece of car-holding architecture ever conceived.

Anyway, as we leave campus, we notice a disturbing trend. Five-story apartment buildings. Everywhere. And they're covered in gunmetal paneling and corrugated steel and some kind of synthetic orange siding and.. well, did I mention they are popping up everywhere, and they're completely hideous? Thank Doran Construction for that, whose signs can be found on every construction site, which as I mentioned earlier, is everywhere.

You know, maybe the Knoll Area is kind of pretty, maybe the West Bank is.. no, let's not get in to that.. but St. Paul is very nice. And I will stand by that. St. Paul campus is the quaint, beautiful community campus that the East Bank will never be. The East Bank is just a jumbled, confused mess. And I will stand by that as well.

Kathleen Mostrom Lehman
Kathleen Mostrom Lehman

Bologna! Nothing prettier on a spring day when the ivy, flowers and trees are in full bloom, or in the fall when the Maroon & Gold mums are in their glory. Sitting on the steps of Coffman Memorial Union and looking toward Northrup Auditorium is one of the prettiest spots in Minneapolis!

Nicole Johnson
Nicole Johnson

I was just about to say the same thing Ryan. The St Paul campus is beautiful!!

Ryan Quinn
Ryan Quinn

Clearly they have never been to St. Paul campus. Absolutely gorgeous.

Laura Gwinn
Laura Gwinn

I agree with Joe. First off, the East bank campus is beautiful. I mean, some of the views of the river going through-breathtaking! Especially at sunset. Views of downtown, some of the older more historic residential areas are awesome. As far as the West bank goes, I don't really know. But in the grand scheme of things, none of that matters considering it's a great school with some of the best programs, richest cultural diversity and highly relevant research out there.

Ecar
Ecar

So the writers at Travel + Leisure didn't actually visit the schools? They just looked at what people were saying in online student forums.  That's some great journalism.  Maybe they could review some countries and cities in the same manner, by not going there in person.

Jeremy Dowd
Jeremy Dowd

It is an ugly campus. There are pockets of beauty disrupted by modern/brutalist brick boxes and empty surface lots. If the Save Dinkeytown group let developers build some low-rise retail/residential buildings it would help with aestetics and walkability.

Jamie Pridemore
Jamie Pridemore

The U of M demolishes UKY in quality and aesthetics.

Samantha Steinbring
Samantha Steinbring

The new Science Teaching and Student Services building is great, and have you been inside the renovated Folwell Hall? Gorgeous

Samantha Steinbring
Samantha Steinbring

The mall area and the traffic circle definitely give it a campus feel

Aaron KidKanive
Aaron KidKanive

not ugly. crowded compared to alot of campuses...but not ugly

Chris Welton
Chris Welton

I was in agreement until I read that you are talking about the buildings and not the girls

Martin Biondo
Martin Biondo

It's just too big, some parts look beautiful

Andrew Wolf
Andrew Wolf

Harvard and MIT are each far uglier. The Mall is not ugly. The area in front of alumni center is not ugly. The new stadium is not ugly.

Michael Mitchell
Michael Mitchell

Well. The buildings are not sacred they get taken down for whimsical new apartment all the time there are no sacred buildings or monuments at the University.

Lindsey Clarke
Lindsey Clarke

Only Minnesotans think its a piece of art. It's ugly compared to a lot of other universities.

Katia Rose
Katia Rose

Beautiful views beat the concrete jungle of the West Bank. Went abroad for school and not many schools have campuses and if they do they are concrete jungles. Or lovely old fashioned building but insanely cold. At least I never felt frozen sitting in class when I was there :)

Reid Diebel
Reid Diebel

Haha.. that's funny.. I didn't know a campus could be ugly looking. West bank is pretty bland looking but the other side has some cool parts to it. Besides all that I think the U has some awesome views down by the river (not in a van - haha) or up on the crossing bridge. Especially the views you get of DT MPLS. It evens out for the better I'd say.

Sam Adamsson
Sam Adamsson

I think it's beautiful. Suck it, haters.

Audrey Johnson
Audrey Johnson

It's not great. My daughter went to Wellesley, that is a beautiful campus. On the other hand I went to Temple and that was uglier than the U of M.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The campus is gorgeous --- West Bank is a low point, but even so has some promising features. East Bank is lovely, as is St. Paul. I'm so tired of big city slickers hating on this little-known piece of heaven.

... I find Madison incredibly aesthetically unpleasing.

Erika J. Dani
Erika J. Dani

are they serious? the east bank is beautiful. the west bank is ugly, but it is next to one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city. i'm going to rutgers in new brunswick right now---that should have made #1 ugly campus in the country. UMTC is waaayyyy better.

thatcariegirl
thatcariegirl

i agree it's "too big."  i would have never gone there (and still wouldn't, at 37!) because it's just too big.  it's kind of a clusterf**k.  but it's "ours" so i don't hate it.  :) 

Neilie Weidell
Neilie Weidell

Who cares if they have some of the worlds best programs?

Margaret Eckert
Margaret Eckert

I disagree, after seeing a few others over the years. For a land grant university, it came out well... at least the Mall and Knoll areas.

Becky Bu
Becky Bu

The University of Essex in Colchester, England, is entirely 1970s tower blocks and it looks like it was designed by a Communist. I hardly think the University of Minnesota is that ugly. The mall is gorgeous, the art museum is world class, many of the older buildings are beautiful. Moos Tower; not so much.

Bruce Fisher
Bruce Fisher

I've walked through other urban campuses and didn't realize I was on a college campus. I don't think that mistake can be made at the U.

Chuck Keding
Chuck Keding

Haha....SCSU is absolutely atrocious, especially before they built the stadium on campus. If it wasn't for the river, it would be exponentially worse.

Daniel McDonough
Daniel McDonough

the buildings designed by Cass Gilbert and Clarence Johnston are among the most beautiful in the state.

Mary Karius
Mary Karius

this certanily has been entertaining

Erik Tiberius Lervold
Erik Tiberius Lervold

its not so much ugly as it is a pastiche of stuff. there is no real feel of it being a campus rather than a disparate conglomerate of buildings.

Cheryl J. Olson
Cheryl J. Olson

An overall vision would have helped. The old original campus is lovely, but as time passed, buildings out of character, many nondescript, many temporary, got squeezed in and they outnumber the original buildings. Campus growth needed to be planned for.

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