Share Your Favorite Campus Curiosities

The view of Mt Ranier from the University of Washington Campus is spectacular. A long parkway framed by landscaping and educational buildings provide the sides. The Drumheller Fountain is in the forground.

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Apparently most colleges have them. I spent a fun few days exploring the ones under Indiana University. Some of the tunnels at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota were open to students, making a trip between buildings much nicer on a cold day.

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Lots of people are familiar with the “Golden Dome” at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana. But how many have seen it from the inside?

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See more at https://dome.nd.edu/

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I attended Flagler! That dining hall is gorgeous, with the gilded murals on the ceiling, Tiffany windows, and carved wooden goddesses and cherubs everywhere. I lived on the third floor of the main hotel-turned-dorms, and there were enough odd occurrences to convince me it’s haunted. I did go exploring in the old service stairwells but got spooked when a metal spiral staircase covered in spiderwebs started swinging away from the wall while I was on it, so I didn’t continue down to the tunnels below.

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Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC, Canada, is situated in the middle of a forest close to the mountains. There are lots of cool trails to hike nearby, and we connected one of them with the campus to make the Cap U 50 Trail to commemorate our 50th anniversary. It’s a short, 1.6 km trail that students, faculty, and staff can do to take a break from it all.

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Nine years ago, I retired from Northwestern University and my wife, an architect, and I began traveling around the country photographing American collegiate architecture and started our business, University Icons. Since then we have visited over 600 campuses in the “lower 48.” We have have encountered a lot of interesting and unusual things buildings and details, but among the most memorable was when I set up my camera in front of Old Main at the University of Arkansas. As I was looking in the viewfinder, fiddling with composition, focus, etc., when I noticed a hand appear. I looked up to find a guy climbing along the side of the building. We struck up a conversation and learned that he was simply practicing his rock climbing skills.

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At the University of New Mexico, I was stunned to find an art installation modestly titled, The Center of the Universe.

The installation is a brutalist cement structure with no obvious purpose, effectively near the most populated area of campus.

360° view of Center of Universe

Quoted from the UNM Website - (requires searching - about 2/3 of the way down)

Bruce Nauman lives near Galisteo, New Mexico, and is represented by the Sperone Westwater Gallery in NYC. His “Center of the Universe” is a conceptual representation of the x-y-z axes of a Cartesian coordinate system. When the viewer stands in the center of the piece, they are located at the conceptual center of the universe. “The Center of the Universe” is an example of Conceptual Art, art in which concepts or ideas in the work are central, taking precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns.

LOCATION: Yale Mall, east of Mitchell Hall
MEDIUM:Poured concrete and sodium vapor lights
SIZE: 50’ x 50’ x 50’
DATE: 1988”

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New College, originally designed to be 3 years of tutorials & yearly comprehensive exams, had its dorms built by world renown I.M. Pei. That was way back, 50 years ago. Now they are talking about tearing them down. The Sarasota Herald has an excellent article with photos. I.M. Pei left his mark on Sarasota's New College - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

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“Dividing the Light,” a Skyspace by James Turrell, is the most recent and perhaps most glowing example of public art on the Pomona College campus. Opened in fall of 2007, the architectural installation heightens the viewer’s awareness of light, sky and the activity of perception.
Link: https://www.pomona.edu/museum/collections/james-turrell-skyspace

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Never knew what the inside looked like wow


Æthelred Eldridge mural on the campus of Ohio University in Athens, OH
Eldrige was an associate professor of painting at Ohio University’s School of Art and Design from 1958-2014. He’s one of the few artists listed in the Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes by art critic Richard Kostelanetz. His work, which tended towards the esoteric, might be known most specifically in a regional sense by his 50-by-80-foot mural in the amphitheater of Siegfred Hall on Ohio University’s campus.

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Campus tunnels are definitely a recurring theme and most large campuses do seem to have them, at least where it is colder and the ground is suitable. I worked at a university for several years and actually went in, mostly out of curiosity but loosely it was related to my job in IT. This particular tunnel was a mile long IIRC right down the middle of campus and had a couple of branches. I wish I had a pic of the engineering map. It had been bored into the limestone around the 1980’s and the main purpose was to deliver steam to the buildings for heat in the winter. But a 8-10 foot diameter tunnel reaching all the key buildings quickly becomes attractive for telephone, computer cables, TV cable, or any other physical need. We walked in at the low point but I also saw a couple of occasions where the telecom guys would drop down a long ladder shaft to work near one of the buildings on the hilly side of the university.
Being in limestone it was much like caves in the area, complete with water running through the bottom, some from ground water penetration but also from the steam pipes. The pipes had a lot of patches on them, seems they were not holding up well and blow-outs happen, when that happens all the fancy fiber optic and other stuff tends to get blasted with steam so a lot of patching goes on.
The coolest thing I found in there was some delicate gypsum like crystals in a deposit the tunnel struck, the second coolest thing I found was the way out. It’s hot and humid in there and once you get over the wow-neato factor it’s really all the same bland rack of bolted on pipes and wires for yards and yards.
So there is some danger in the service tunnels, some interesting stuff too but mainly nothing you’d want to risk getting in trouble to break gate locks and explore.

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As an alum of Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), I always think of Upham Arch as an iconic landmark. It is where many marriage proposals occur. Another favorite is the 1 mile long Slant Walk and its symbols of learning, such as the armillary, university seal, library, historic buildings and more.

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My undergrad library has a clock tower with a animatronic jester that appears allegedly at midnight to fanfare and does a recorded spiel about time. I say allegedly because when I was at East Carolina in the late aughts, there was many a late night at the library and I never saw this jester! But the Joyner Jester has an online presence! You can read about him at Clowning around at Joyner | News | theeastcarolinian.com or his Twitter @ ECUJoynerJester

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Storied University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN has its Golden Dome and its “Touchdown Jesus” library mosaic visible from the stadium endzone; also, there’s “First-Down Moses” and on one of the older buildings on the quad, a roof-cornice statue of Knute Rockne—often embellished with a stocking cap of a rival team or with a beer can in his hand (sorry, no photo)

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Wheaton College, in Wheaton IL has in its Marion E. Wade Center library, a room exhibit dedicated to the writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Included are Lewis’ wardrobe, of Narnia fame, and Tolkien’s writing desk.

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“The Shakespeare Garden in Evanston, Illinois is a Shakespeare garden on the campus of Northwestern University. Planned in 1915 and built from 1916 to 1929, the garden was the first Shakespeare Garden in the United States.” (wikipedia)
I think the garden was a feature on Atlas Obscura once also. :?)

It’s not so easy to find, especially in summer when all the trees and hedges are full. I discovered it once when warming up for running in a 5k race in the area. It is just adjacent to Garrett Seminary’s driveway, “hidden” but accessible via pathway past a peace memorial.img_2699_630x420

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