Welcome to the University of Colors that Scare the Blind.
Take Isla Vista Theater, which you may have already observed through disposable tinted glasses left over from the most recent solar eclipse. It’s squatting out there on Embarcadero del Norte in its new paint, looking like the only building to be constructed entirely from uranium-orange Fiestaware.
Say what you will about the perils of finding housing in I.V., but, no matter what landlord-white cube you choose, you won’t suffer the ignominy that bedevils residents of San Rafael Residence Hall. What a thrill it must be to live in a building that sports a plaid of egregious eggplant, hangover whiz yellow and nuthouse green.
Yet the suffering of San Rafaelites pales in comparison to the indignities endured by the inmates — what else could you call them? — of Manzanita Village. The colors are just as bad as its neighbor, but it looks like a prison purchased at Ikea.
Or take the Counseling and Career Services Building — a hot pink pile of blocks that looks like a pre-Columbian gay bar. Would you seek career advice from people who work in a building that makes it clear that they have erred in theirs? Imagine the protests if the university had applied that color to the Women’s Center or the Resource Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity and some luck it would have attracting future Nobel laureates if Kohn Hall looked like the Barbie Institute for Theoretical Physics. No — the guidance counselors are low on the pigment pole.
Why did they university stray from the classic look of Snidecor Hall — drab colors atop a design from the school of Frank Lloyd Wrong? And if any university building should be painted bright orange, shouldn’t Campbell Hall? From the air it already looks like a pumpkin, complete with a stem. I say if we’re going to get ugly, then let’s get serious about applying lipstick to this pig and splash a spectrum’s worth of paint on Storke Tower. Let’s rename it the Rainbow Rod, and let it reflect our proud commitment to diversity.
Speaking of reflecting, the Reflecting Pool in Storke Plaza was nice until the pump broke and the administration decided that — instead of fixing it — they would rename it Storke Pond and make it the victim of a “restoration project.” In their efforts to restore a concrete kiddie pool to a natural state it never existed in before, they filled it with aquatic plants and well-known native species like Asian carp. The university now spends thousands each year to sustain this supposedly self-sustaining slime bog.
There are only two university buildings that are done right, and in both cases form follows function. Cheadle Hall is a masterpiece. That big ugly slab looks like a building where bureaucracy happens — or doesn’t happen, as the case may be. It’s a giant metaphor for stonewalling. The other example of campus architecture gone right is the new Marine Sciences Building, which does an excellent impression of an aquarium.
Those bright spots aside, this is a campus determined to blight and be a blot upon the beachside. Is there some directive from the University of California Office of the President that our school has to cancel out the natural beauty of the area? I don’t think that’s possible, but we’re giving it a hell of a go.
The latest trend extends UCSB’s commitment to ugliness beyond architecture and paint. This year the school’s rising admissions standards gave it a freshmen class of billygoats that looks like it ought to be penned up and fed sawdust pellets at a country petting zoo. What happened to the photo section of the application?
Daily Nexus interim opinion editor Brendan Buhler saves money on Halloween costumes by appearing in well-lighted rooms.