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September 04, 2007 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-09-04

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The Michigan Daily I

Why North Campusis so creepy

It's ver (

ven though I have been a
North Campusite who has
trekked to the beloved Art
and Architecture Building for
many years, that "other" campus
has always given me an odd feel-
ing. For those accustomed to Cen-
tral Campus, walking through the
North Campus Quad is like visit-
ing a Twilight Zone version of the
Diag. These two Michigan cam-
puses share common features - a
bell tower, a union, a big library, a
couple of dorms - and yet some-
thing feels strange about the north-
ern counterpart. But what?
I searched for an answer and
immediately accused the reclusive
engineering students, but I soon
realized they are not to blame.
Curiously, neither are the musi-
cians or the Bursley folk. I then
thought North Campus' peculiar
aura could be due to its architec-
ture. The campus features some
pretty crazy brick concoctions like
Charles Moore's Lurie Tower, Eero
Saarinen's Music School and the
Duderstadt Center, whose design
came from the offices of Albert
Kahn. These facilities look like an
outdated '80s movie that attempts
to depict the future. Still, an ugly
building may induce nausea, but
not goosebumps. There had to be

another reason that North Campus
was so creepy.
For years, that question plagued
my mind. The solution remained
elusive until one quiet night it came
to me: North Campus feels strange
because it is so eerily vacant and
lacks any energetic vitality. It's not
the people, it's not even the build-
ings, it's the lack of people and it's
the wide open spaces.
Central Campus has the ben-
efit of location, situated adjacent to
urbanAnnArborwhile NorthCam-
pus is about a 10-minute drive from
most everywhere. This fact also
partially accounts for how spread
out North Campus is - parking
lots take up space. Constrained by
the University's original 40 acres,
the Diag is framed by an enclosure
of structures necessarily nestled
Conversely, North Campus
buildings are fragments that dissi-
pate into the trees and do not shape
the spaces in between.
In recent years, however, North
Campus has been losing some of its
X-Files vibe. First, there was the
North Campus Redux two years
ago, a plan championed by Archi-
tecture and Urban Planning Dean
Doug Kelbaugh. The Redux project
recognized that the campus has

,r Head Architecture Column
By Austin Dingwall
an "anemic and incomplete sense once had while traversing through
of place." When coupled with its Pierpont Commons might soon be
distant location, this lack of iden- unwarranted. The only remaining
tity means that although North eerie feeling is the notion that the
Campus is "home to a student pop- panda's eyes on the Panda Express
ulation as large as that of Yale Uni- logo in the food court in Pierpont
versity, there are few reasons for Commons keep following me, but
people to voluntarily visit or spend that's between me and the panda.
time there." The improvement couldn't
Next came the new Computer last, though. Just when I thought
Science Building, giving the North that North Campus was coming
Campus Quad a better sense of up roses, Arthur Miller Theatre
enclosure. Complete with an idio- proved me wrong. I had seen the
syncratic hodgepodge of materi- building's design renderings and
als that work surprisingly well eagerly waited with anticipation
together, this engineering build- for the glowing, phosphorescent
ing triumphantly conquered and cube to be completed. During
renegotiated the hill that was once construction, I gazed at the steel
the Quad's only northeast bound- structure and imagined the cool,
ary. The building's southern glass clean building that would emerge.
atrium space houses a sensational The design is simple and elegant,
spiral staircase that spills the but its realization is not.
building's inhabitants out into the The glass cube was supposed to
North Quad lawn on a nice day. provide an ephemeral translucency
Although the "Northern Diag" that exhibits the material coolness
is still tremendously overscaled, coveted by contemporary architec-
it now reads as an actual space. tural theory. Although the idea is
Before it was a lopsided accumula- sweet, the installed glass appears
tion of buildings. cloudy and opaque, homogenous
Then came the Walgreen Drama and flat. In addition, mechani-
Center, a building that is fueling cal equipment clumsily protrudes{
the critical density and making from the roof of the connecting
North Campus seem normal. With Walgreen Center, interrupting the
such progress, I began to think cube's simple geometry. The design
that eerie feeling of emptiness I relied on its materials to take the

Living in
the lap of


Arthur Miller Theatre into a realm
of cool they couldn't reach alone.
An awesome, glowing cube is
designed tobe cool. But it isn't. And
so, failing that, all other design
attempts to be trendy seem just
plain dumb. For example, the stair-
case is disjointed and unnecessar-
ily large for the atrium's simple
centerpiece. The interior's exposed
concrete provides a giant surface
with a stylish texture but minimal
integration. The exterior letters
on the cube say "Theatre" twice,
once merely larger than the other.
In a gracefully coherent building
with successful materials, these
features would be architecturally
hip. In Arthur Miller Theatre, they
merely exacerbate the notion that
the building is trying hard to be
cool and cutting-edge but not suc-
North Campus continues to
improve, and Arthur Miller The-
atre could have been a giant leap
forward. I guess North Campus
will always provide me with a
disturbing unease, if not from its
peculiar void of vitality but from
the glass box that has disappointed
me so.
This column originally
ran on March 7, 2007.

Around U.S., co-ed dorms catch on

'U'has some
gender-neutral hous-
ing, but co-ed dorms
are far off
For the Daily
In response to pressure from stu-
dents, many universities around the
country have begun assigning some
housing on a gender-neutral basis
for LGBT students. Some have even
let any student choose to live in a
co-ed room. The University main-
tains some gender-neutral housing
for transgender students, but there
hasn't been an organized push for
radical changes to the policy.
Thenationwide push for achange
in housing policies has come main-
ly from lesbian, gay, bisexual and

transgender communities.
Last month, Harvard Univer-
sity agreed to make gender-neutral
housing available to all students
who identify as transgender, simi-
lar to the University of Michigan's
Katherine Smith, a freshman at
Harvard and a spokeswoman for
the school's Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay,
Transgender and Supporters Alli-
ance, said students are now push-
ing for co-ed housing to be open to
all students.
At the University of California
at Riverside, an entire dorm is set
aside for housing that is co-ed by
room that includes a hall themed
with LGBT programs and educa-
Other schools where some form
of gender-neutral housing has been
instituted include Oregon State Uni-
versity, Swarthmore College, Sarah
Lawrence College, Oberlin College,
Ithaca College and the University of

University of Pennsylvania
spokesman Ron Ozio said Penn
allows any student older than 18 and
in at least his or her sophomore year
to request gender-neutral housing
with no questions asked about his
or her motivation.
Out of Penn's student body of
10,400, 127 students chose to spend
this school year in such housing.
The University of Michigan does
not consider a transgender student
to be of another gender until he or
she has completed surgery to tran-
sition to that gender.
The University addresses con-
cerns of transgender students on a
case-by-case basis, said Jacqueline
Simpson, director of the Universi-
ty's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans-
gender Affairs Office.
If students want to pursue gen-
der-neutral housing options, they
have to speak to a Housing or
LGBTA staff liaison.

These students are often placed
in the gender-neutral apartment-
style housing on North Campus,
said Simpson, who also serves as
one of the staff liaisons.
However, for students who want
to live on Central Campus, options
are more limited. Campus-wide
gender-neutral housing is diffi-
cult to accommodate because of
the structural limitations of the
University's dorms, said Housing
spokesman Alan Levy.
Levy said University Housing
has worked to include at least one
unisex bathroom in each residence
hall, but it's difficult to attach bath-
rooms to rooms for students who
identify with non-traditional gen-
der expressions.
Levy said North Quad, a new res-
idence hall slated to be finished in
2010, will offer suites with attached
bathrooms. But he said officials
haven't discussed offering co-ed
housing where students of any gen-
der or sexual expression may live
Simpson said having broader
availability of gender-neutral
housing would be beneficial. She
said the University is trying to
meet the needs ofstudents uncom-
fortable in traditional residence
hall settings.
"I do think that having gender-
neutral housing options available
From page 9C
those. One minute we'd be deci-
phering old police documents,
the next the conversation would
swerve all over the place. For a
while, the class seemed incred-
ibly intimate.
I couldn't believe it. I was
pretty sure David Halperin was
teaching me how to be gay.
Now before you write your
congressman, let's back up a sec-
ond. The fate of my sexuality was
sealed long before I met David
Halperin. What struck me about
his class was how he taught it
as not only an intellectual but a
moral imperative. He knew the
syllabus inside out, and he taught
it with due attention. But for my
money, that's not why he was
He was there because he knew
the objections to his classes could
never be substantiated. He was
there because he knew there
were some students who needed
a different perspective. He was
there because of us.

campus-widewouldbe agooddirec-
tion, so that it doesn't necessarily
designate just one area of campus
that there would be gender-neutral
housing options on," said Simpson,
referring to the potential of North
Quad for such housing.
A student campaign would be
the most effective way to encourage
the University to adopt more wide-
spread co-ed housing, Levy said.
But Simpson said she has not
seen any signs of a formal student
response to the current policy.
Levy said no organized student
movement has approached him,
Nationwide, several colleges
have changed their housing policies
as a result of student campaigns.
LSA junior Andrew McBride,
who works in the Office of LGBT
Affairs, said the University needs
to do more to make students in the
LGBT community feel more accept-
ed at the University.
"More gender-neutral housing
and I also think just more state-
ments in general supporting gender
diversity among the student popu-
lation and among staff and faculty,"
he said.
"Those could be some very pre-
liminary first steps."
This article originally ran
on March 13, 2007.
And that's where the regents
really should fear him. Halperin
doesn't teach his students how
to be gay - even he doesn't have
the ego to stake that claim - but
he is a maverick social critic,
and that's what's so danger-
ous about him. I suspect "How
to Be Gay" was meant to spark
exactly the reaction it did, but
that's only because Halperin is
a smart and amusing man. He
knows it's only a matter of time
before those objections collapse
on themselves.
When we left for Thanksgiv-
ing Break, Halperin assigned
"Edward II," which he figured
was esoteric enough for us to
read in the company of our par-
ents. That weekend, a classmate
sent as an e-mail suggesting that
while we sat around the dinner
table at home, we imagine what
it'd be like to watch a Halperin-
picked movie with our families.
"Keep your sense of humor," he
I did, and I laughed, but not
because he was kidding.
This article originally
ran on Feb. 14, 2007.

Although Cambridge House
no longer has maids or room ser-
vice, the residence hall still offers
students a bit of hotel luxury
unavailable elsewhere on cam-
The hall's 110 students enjoy
private bathrooms and carpet-
That's why Cambridge House,
attached to the Michigan Union
and West Quad, is the most
expensive residence hall on cam-
pus, University Housing spokes-
manAlan Levysaid.
For the first 60 years of its
existence, Cambridge House
was part of the Michigan Union
Hotel, Levy.said.
After the hotel closed in 1979
the University decided to turn
the building into a residence hall.
Room and board in a deluxe
single at Cambridge cost
$10,692.00 this past school year,
while a smaller traditional single
cost $10,332.
The cheapest residence hall is
Fletcher Hall. Room and board at
the dormcost $6,442 for students
living in triple rooms this year.
Although next year's rates
for next year will not be submit-
ted to the University Board of
Regents until next month, a pro-
posal originally slated for con-
sideration at last week's regents
meeting would have increased
the price of room and board in
Cambridge House by more than
$400 per year.
Freshmen are currently
restricted from living in Cam-
bridge House. Starting this year,
students from all residence halls
on campus were given equal
opportunity to live in the dorm.
West Quad residents were previ-
ously given priority.
College of Engineering sopho-
more Michael Tobin lives in a
deluxe single roominCambridge.
Although he plans to move off-
campus next year, he said he
has enjoyed living in Cambridge
because of his ample space and
private bathroom.
"It's nice because you don't
have to walk down the hall when
you want to take a shower," he
LSA sophomore Ed Kram-
kowskisaid he likes living in
his double room in Cambridge
because of the hall's location.
Last year, he lived in Baits Hall
on North Campus, which was
cheaper but more isolated.
Kramkowski said Cambridge
Hall is also quieter than Baits
The hallways in Cambridge
House were nearly silent yester-
day afternoon. Few students left
their doors open. Tobin said liv-
ing in Cambridge has drawbacks,
though he enjoys the hall's pri-
vacy and quiet atmosphere.
"You don't see your hallmates
that much," Tobin said. "If you're
looking to become best friends
with the kids that live on your
hall, you probably shouldn't live
This article originally
ran on March19,2007.

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