The university’s Central Hall is one of Britain’s ‘ugliest buildings’, according to a list in the Independent on Sunday.
Professor John Rentoul, the paper’s chief political commentator, compiled a list of “horrible buildings”, and named one of the university’s most iconic as seventh in the top ten.
“Nominated by Peter Noble, who adds that, “The whole original campus is pretty bad,”” he wrote.
According to the list, which featured in Independent on Sunday’s magazine two weeks ago, Preston Bus Station is Britain’s most “horrible building”, followed by Buckingham Palace in second and the South Bank Centre in London in third.
The National Library of Kosovo in Pristina came fourth, with the Lock Keeper’s Cottage at Queen Mary, in fifth.
Cambridge’s Seeley Historical Library came sixth, followed by Kensington Town Hall in eighth and the old Home Office building, which is now the Ministry of Justice, in ninth.
Completing the top ten was the ‘new’ Home Office building.
“These are mostly British, and indeed many of them are in London, because I stick with what I know and I’ve a few long-standing grudges to settle,” Rentoul wrote.
“Some of these were nominated for last week’s Top 10 Great Buildings, but this is where they really belong.”
Since compiling the list, the writer has now said he will submit them – including Central Hall, located on the Heslington West campus – to the Dead Prize competition, which, according to the makers, is “an annual award that highlights inventors, designers and companies that have caused detrimental impact to the planet”.
But is it really that bad?
David Duncan, the university registrar, told Vision: “Views on whether buildings are ugly or beautiful are subjective; some people enthuse about Central Hall, while others are less taken with it.
“However, most commentators would agree that it is both iconic and fit for purpose. While students in other universities graduate in draughty city halls or buildings which offer their guests a poor view of proceedings, the steeply raked Central Hall provides an intimate space in which everyone has a clear view of the ceremonies. It also provides an excellent forum for major national events, such as the Church of England Synod, which takes place there every year (the historic decision to permit women to become bishops was made there only a few weeks ago).
“Other 1960s buildings on the campus will be progressively replaced over the next ten-fifteen years, but the University is committed to retaining Central Hall. The exterior has already been upgraded and further works are planned to improve the interior. These will allow it to be used as a large lecture theatre and will also enhance access for disabled people and make it more attractive for major conferences.”
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