Published in the Daily Nexus, September 16, 2013
Overlooking the rest of the UC system, the Nexus found a disturbing lack of towers paired with bells. Only two of our campus counterparts uphold pure campanological tradition, with the other seven making paltry attempts at distinguished monuments. The more you know.
The tallest structure in Santa Barbara County, Storke Tower was built in 1969 and named in honor of local media mogul and U.S. Senator Thomas Storke, who helped fund its construction.
UC Berkeley’s Sather Tower (1914) – A lot people would go ahead and give Berkeley the gold, as always. Sure, it single-handedly ignited the collegiate craze for carillon and, at 307 ft., ranks as the world’s third tallest campanile. But you know what else it is? Overrated.
UC Riverside’s Bell Tower (1966) – Named with the same creative aplomb as Bob Dylan’s backing band, The Band. Although the edifice fares better architecturally, it still falls 15 ft. short of Storke and always tries to make up for it by flashing its 5,162 holes. But the worst part? Hearing the hours tick away in real life, then reliving it with a barrage of cyberspace transcriptions of the ‘bong’ing.
Bell Tower’s tweet at 10 a.m. on May 13. #desperate
UC San Francisco’s William J. Rutter Center (2003) – Can we really be surprised that this Soviet-esque Storke knock-off is not freestanding? No. The fact this giant hard-on for Marx is located in San Francisco? Also doesn’t raise an eyebrow. Our biggest shock is that the structure didn’t inspire the UC across the Bay to bust out the red paint on Sather. UCSF, tear down that tower.
UCLA’s Royce Hall (1929) – Despite pompously calling itself a “center for the art of performance,” Royce couldn’t tell a carillon from chimes if its seismic integrity depended on it. The Bruins had the decency to compensate for their bummer bells by doubling up on towers, but apparently not the foresight to make them symmetrical. Maybe next time focus less on being a building, more on being a tower.
UC Irvine’s Student Center tower (2010) – No one even gave this sad excuse of a spire a chance to be loved. Do you even carillon, Irvine? No, of course you don’t, because you’d rather make a mockery of campanology. You rig an existing anteater-emblazoned structure with some synthetic clanging, throw up a decoy bell, and expect us to take you for a bunch of carillonneurs? Pathetic.
UC San Diego’s Geisel Library (1970) – We can’t all be lucky enough to claim as ours a svelte steeple with some kick-ass bells, but your building is such a ding-dong it can’t even decide whether it’s upside-down or not. The guy our building’s named after won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism. What’d yours do, rhyme ‘fish’ with ‘fish’?
UC Merced, “Beginnings” (2009) – Wow Merced, you’ve really impressed us with your wild curves! This one just flew right over our heads. The rest of us will totally stop making fun of you now. Not. Yet again, utterly useless. No question for whom the bells toll, here.
UC Davis’s water tower (1995) – Don’t let the name fool you, this obscene structure only qualifies as a ‘tower’ through technicality. It’s obvious Davis isn’t even trying — or I hope not, considering their campus’ identity is tied to an uninspired, utilitarian object already found in every American city. And it’s not like anyone tried to hide it, so I’m going to have to assume it’s something they’re proud of. Which part, Aggies: the fact that you know how to drink water or how to put it in a container?
UC Santa Cruz – All they have is fucking hills. You could have been more than banana slugs but good job on not building a statue of Hitler, I guess.