I spent a little time ambling around UC Irvine this afternoon. Given that the campus is laid out in rings, "around" is fitting in more ways than one. At the very least, you never get lost. ("Just keep walking! You'll get back to it eventually!")
Looking in the direction of the new Humanities buildings and the Student Union:
There's some unintended architectural comic relief provided by the interim classroom buildings. You know, the ones that have been interim for the entire duration of the university's existence (or close to it), and are now sitting across from shiny, gigantic new builds. These permanent interim buildings were there when I was at UCI from '88-'92:
Incidentally, you know that a college campus was built in the 60s when one of its dormitory complexes has a Middle Earth theme.
Unfortunately, one of the more distressing aspects of meandering about UCI is the new architecture, which somehow manages to be as ugly as the old architecture (is the campus under some sort of aesthetic curse?), but...more bizarrely. What is this, exactly?
And while it's great that there's a new science library--visiting the old one was a signally gloomy affair--I can't help noting that it bears a strange resemblance to some sort of insectoid space invader.
Meanwhile, back to buildings that were around when I was around--Krieger (or HOB), the English department's original abode. I used to hang out and read on a bench in front of the building, but the bench vanished shortly after I graduated. (Correlation? Causation?)
The refurbished plaza is really not bad at all, although my enthusiasm for the new humanities buildings is...muted. (Still, they managed to get rid of the interim buildings over on this side, for which I suppose we all ought to be grateful; I think they were the buildings that E. L. Doctorow compared to egg cartons.)
The park at the center of campus remains pretty.
The most traumatic change, though, had nothing to do with architecture: I went into the university bookstore, hoping to spend some money on remainders (because the bookstore has always had an amazing section of academic and literary remainders), but not only were there almost no remainders, there were almost no books. Sure, there were some books, but virtually the entire upper floor had been taken over by gizmos and shirts and supplies and goodness-knows-what. It's a bookstore! It should have books in it! Really!