Vote for the ugliest Uni of York building on campus

Surprise, Derwent made the list x

If you come to the Uni of York looking for historical buildings similar to those in the city centre, you will be vastly disappointed. The high standards set by the likes of the Shambles and the Minster are not reflected at all by the majority of the uni buildings.

If you thought Derwent was the only ugly building, just take a look at this rating and discover the abundance of eyesores (and the odd pretty building) York Uni has to offer. At the end of the article, vote for the building that makes your eyes hurt the most and we can finally all settle that it’s deffo Derwent. 

Since we all probably really miss seeing Derwent and Central Hall on our 9am commutes, here is a definitive rating of Uni of York buildings, by how ugly they are. Keep an eye out for the theme of grey that runs through campus.

Central Hall

Starting the virtual tour of campus off with a relatively controversial contender is Central Hall. Supposedly looking like a spaceship, a discussion of Central Hall brings with it divided opinions. It’s like Marmite: Some love it, others hate it. As far as the rest of the uni buildings go, it’s certainly not the ugliest which does give it bonus points, and the unique appearance definitely makes it memorable to visitors. Whether it can be truly classed as a non-ugly building however, is debatable. Forget Hes Hall or even the Minster (okay YSJ you win this one), Central Hall is the only place fit for Uni of York graduations. 

Ugliness: 5/10

Physics building

Hopping over the lake, we have the first undeniably ugly building: Physics. Unless large boxes of glass and concrete are your thing, the Physics building is without a doubt an eyesore. The reflection of the grey concrete onto the grey lake with the grey sky behind it is enough to make even the most enthusiastic student happier to have Zoom classes than that sight at 9am. 

Ugliness: 8/10

James N Block

Referred to as “prison block” for a reason, James N Block proves to be a strong contender for the most ugly building on campus. The attempts to cover the concrete exterior haven’t gone unnoticed, but maybe a more lively colour than just another shade of grey would have been more effective? Perhaps the only advantage to living in “prison block” is the sight of fit lads walking to the Sports Centre, but even that doesn’t doesn’t make up for the ugliness that is N Block.

Ugliness: 9/10

The Morrell Library

Situated nicely out of eyeline, on top of the hill, is the library. Although the inside is light, white and modern, the dreary exterior of the building does nothing to motivate anyone to work there. Similar in style to the Physics building, the mix of concrete and dark glass just doesn’t cut it, especially when compared to the library buildings on Campus East. The proximity to the clean, white buildings of Alcuin college only accentuate the off-white concrete. Library who? I’d rather study in my cramped uni room thanks. 

Ugliness: 7/10


Jumping over to the library’s counterpart on Campus East, the change in vibe is instantly apparent. The circular design of Piazza is almost like Central Hall but less of the 90s sci-fi vibes. The wooden paneling and large windows also make it much less of an eyesore. The library space inside is also much more appealing than Morrell (warm lights/colours rather than blinding stark white and, you guessed it, grey) making it a way more productive workspace. The only downfall of Piazza, besides the trek to get to it, are the winds on East which you can even feel from inside the building. Concrete structures may look ugly but at least they don’t move in the wind.

Ugliness: 3/10

Derwent College

Who would’ve guessed? The number one competition for James N Block is without a doubt Derwent College. I sincerely believe the architects who designed Derwent just wanted to use as much concrete as possible – and they succeeded. Everywhere you turn is concrete. The chance of seeing Longboi is possibly the only reason to venture into the concrete maze. 

Ugliness: 9/10

Heslington Hall

Before we entirely write off Campus West for its abundance of ugly buildings, Hes Hall definitely deserves a chance to redeem it. A poster child for the uni, Hes Hall rightfully gets all the publicity. This is the only building on campus that looks like it is meant to belong in York. There is nothing about the building that could possibly be called ugly, in fact it almost makes up for the amount of concrete on the rest of campus. It’s the place to get grad pics (or any pics) for a reason. 

Ugliness: 0/10

Ron Cooke Hub

Back to the sanctuary that is Campus East, the Ron Cooke Hub is yet another tastefully designed building. Not only is the building a good combination of wooden panels and floor to ceiling windows, but the lake it overlooks is actually blue – the plastic-bottomed lake on West could never. Don’t even get me started on the study pods on the lake. They’re always fully booked for a reason. Who doesn’t want to study on a lake? The Ron Cooke Hub is inviting and makes you actually want to work, which is a definite bonus for a uni building. The only possible negative to this building is the absolute trek to get there if you’re on West – and yes that makes it more ugly in my mind. 

Ugliness: 2/10

Vote below for the building you think is worthy of the title of ugliest on campus:


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