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The Bucky List: Five Reasons to Love the Humanities Building

Oh, the Humanities!

Falicia Hines
October 01, 2019
George L Mosse Humanities Building in Summer.

Most of us who have spent time in the George L. Mosse Humanities Building love to loathe its many narrow hallways and endless dead ends. Just when you think you’ve found your way to class, you realize you’re on the wrong side of the building — with only one elevator that actually serves all floors. Despite its bewildering layout, there is much to appreciate about this lower-campus landmark. Here are the top five reasons to appreciate the Humanities building.

1. It Can Withstand Attack

Or can it? Local lore says the concrete behemoth was meant to thwart attacks. Alas, this is a myth likely due to the building’s 1960s origin. Humanities was under construction during the Vietnam War, at the height of student activism and protest.  

2. All of the Classes and Activities

From history to art, many of our favorite classes were held at Humanities (Music in Performance or “Clap for Credit,” anyone?). We all remember film screenings, musical performances, or student organization meetings taking place in the catacombs of Humanities. You name it, it probably happened there!

3. It’s “Brutal”

In some circles, the Humanities building is actually celebrated as an architectural achievement. Chicago architect Harry Weese designed the building in “Brutalist” style, which became popular during the post–World War II building boom. Brutalist architecture is known for its use of concrete and steel, and its utilitarian feel. And Humanities has plenty to go around!

4. Shelter from the Storm

Honestly, who hasn’t ducked under one of the building’s many overhangs to stay dry during a rainstorm? 

5. We Just Can’t Quit It

The building has been on the chopping block since 2003, when the UW announced a long-range plan to demolish it. No other building on campus has caused so much debate from supporters and detractors alike. And yet, nearly 17 years later, students are still finding (or searching for) their classes at 455 N. Park Street.

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