Concrete Chic

Adam Heins - 4A Mechatronics
Posted on: November 6, 2016

The University of Waterloo’s main campus has a bad reputation when it comes to appearance. It is consistently ranked poorly among other schools in Canada with regard to aesthetics. How could we have avoided this regrettable situation?

The University of Waterloo was founded at a low point in the history of architecture. The late 1950s and the early 1960s were a time of unbridled concrete usage and a seeming distaste for natural light. One of the treasures of this era still stands tall in the middle of our campus: the Mathematics and Computer Building, more commonly known as MC.

MC boasts an unforgiving grey concrete exterior and tiny windows. It has been compared to dungeons and prisons. Many students cite it as one of the prime factors contributing toward Waterloo’s untoward appearance. After all, how can MC compete with its young and pretty neighbours, QNC and M3? A little farther away, E5 and E6 mock MC’s cold concrete with their sleek glass exteriors.

However, MC is not necessarily the problem. Consider an alternative course of history, where all of the buildings on campus are built in the same style as MC. I propose that Waterloo’s main source of unattractiveness comes not from a few ugly buildings like MC, but moreso because the architectural style of the campus is so inconsistent. We have plain old brick structures like RCH, E2, and Physics 1. We have stark and imposing behemoths like MC and DP. We have whatever DC is. And more recently, we’ve obtained a slew of modern glass boxes. Like a plaid shirt and polka-dot pants, these different styles clash.

People already complain about Waterloo being dungeon-like. If all of the buildings looked like MC, we could take pride in the fact that this sentiment would no longer be hyperbole. We would have a strong campus that makes no time for softness, color, or natural light. A true commitment to pragmatism and distraction-free studying. And while a campus full of MCs may not be beautiful, at least it would match.