notes from the dorm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am

If the age-old belief that the environment in which you study has a big impact on your academic performance is true, then the University of British Columbia would rank quite poorly. Sure, on the best of days, when the sunshine caresses your face and the leaves of the oak-lined boulevards rustle gently in the cool breeze, one would be hard-pressed to think of a more delightful place to be.

Keep in mind, though, that this is indeed a rare occurrence, and for the majority of the year, the self-proclaimed 'most beautiful place on earth' is shrouded by a gloomy blanket of clouds. The clouds bring out the sombre greys of the various concrete horrors littered around the campus. These buildings clash with the natural environment that is so loved in Vancouver, creating a jarring effect on the eye. They seem so out of place.

Thankfully, all this is redeemed somewhat by the more recent buildings: outstanding structures built from glass, steel and redwood. This architectural style perfectly embodies the principles of openness and transparency that the university wants to project. It echoes the gleaming metropolis that is urban Vancouver, its beautiful shards of glass and steel reflected in the azure waters of False Creek and English Bay.

Two of the university's most striking architectural structures are the two main libraries. The first is built to resemble, fittingly, an open book. It beckons students strolling down the main boulevard to enter. The second library is an idiosyncratic combination of glass-and-steel and a faux Gothic Revival wing, giving the structure a peculiar but nostalgic feel.

The university's architecture is eclectic and wide-ranging; eye-pleasing and discordant. It certainly makes walking to classes in the morning a tad more interesting, be it good or bad.