Results are in for the ugliest building on the Uni of York campus
You can probably guess the winner
As a historical city, York is known for its picturesque streets and pretty buildings. I really wish the same can be said for the university campus. Built in the 1960s, everyone’s least favourite period for architecture, Uni of York is bursting to the SEAMS with brutalist buildings.
So we put the question to you, the students, over a series of polls on our Instagram story (if you don’t already follow what are you doing with your life), to find out once and for all the ugliest building on the University of York campus.
Starting with 12 buildings, we held two rounds to narrow them down to a final three, where a final vote decided the winner.
So, from least to most, here are the ugliest buildings on the UoY campus, as ranked by you.
In last place is Heslington Hall
It’s no surprise the grade II listed manor house is generally considered the nicest building on campus. A pretty building surrounded by pretty green space, it’s probably one of the most picturesque places on campus, so long as you have your back to Derwent.
It would be perfect if we were ever allowed in it (seriously what do they do in there?)
In 11th place is Piazza
With lakeside views, flexible learning spaces and a Starbucks, there’s not much dislike about the Piazza building. Built in the last ten years on East Campus, it provides an escape from the 60s architecture of West, earning its spot this far down the list.
In 10th, the Science Park
Not often brought up when students complain about ugly buildings on campus, the science park is relatively harmless. Though its orange and cream colour scheme makes it a lot less brutal than other buildings on this list, there’s something about the biocentre that I find unsettling and that’s why I’ve included it.
I think it’s just because I’ve cycled through it in the evening a lot. It looks deceptively inviting when there’s no one around and it gives me bad vibes. That aside, it’s not really an eyesore and therefore takes tenth place on the list.
Ninth place goes to James College
To be more specific ninth place went to “the rest of James”, since certain blocks needed a category of their own and appear higher up this list (sorry James). Walking through James is pretty underwhelming in terms of architecture but it could be significantly worse. The green space surrounding the college, being right next to the lake, redeems the lack-luster buildings.
In eighth is Central Hall
I thought I’d have to defend Central Hall so I’m shocked it’s this far down the list.
We can all admit, this spaceship building is weird, and the sad grey and glass colour scheme doesn’t help its case. Whilst most of us would much rather graduate in the Minster or at least Heslington Hall than this 60s fever dream, I think its weirdness gives it an odd charm?
I’m not saying it’s a pretty building, it isn’t, but it’s very distinctive, which is hard to say for most of the clear-cut blocks around campus. Gaining points for being different, Central Hall is an eyesore I can deal with.
The Physics building takes seventh place
A big navy glass cube that emerges from a sad cream and concrete block, there’s not much about the physics building I can compliment. In seventh, it’s clearly not the worst, but it could be much better.
The missing letters really don’t help the “Ex ibit on Centre” sell its drab appearance, however the missing L in welcome does often provide cheap laughs after a full day of lectures.
In sixth is King’s Manor
Surprisingly high on the list is King’s Manor, having lost to Heslington Hall in the first round of votes.
A grade I listed building a small walk away from the York Minster, King’s Manor is the picturesque home of the Archeology department, as well as a small library that was recently refurbished.
Personally, this is one of my favourite buildings the university has so I’m sad about it being on this list in the first place.
Being quite a distance from the main campus justifies its higher position on the list since it may be less well known than Heslington Hall. Both buildings are fairly equal in terms of prettiness, but we can actually use King’s Manor which I think gives it the edge.
In fifth place is the Spring Lane Building
Yet another grey block on the UoY campus, but this one has the creative addition of some colourful sticks down the side to make it less sad. There’s nothing that pretty about Spring Lane, despite the splash of colour it’s still just as brutal as other buildings shape-wise, and at night the lights looming through the big glass panels at the front are pretty intimidating.
Though it’s not the worst, the lecture hall in there is so bright that 9ams in there make me feel physically sick so I’m happy to have the SLB this high up the list.
Fourth place goes to Morrell
More glass and concrete! That’s about all you can say about the Morrell, a sad exterior to reflect the mood of the students inside (maybe that’s what they were going for?)
The walk across the concrete slab-bridge to get there really adds to the overall vibe, especially if it’s raining, one which has earnt Morrell the fourth place spot on this list.
In third place is James N block
James N block, otherwise known as “prison block”, takes third place and it’s not hard to see why.
If you search for images of “UK prison” you can see how N block fits the colour palette – I don’t know if that’s what they were going for but they achieved it. An odd and out of place addition to James college, N block came in third place with 19 per cent of the final vote.
In second place are the Portacabins in James
Why are these here? In second place with 38 per cent of the final vote are the portacabins in James. Maybe I’m biased having had so many late seminars in these but there are few, if any, sights on campus I dislike more than these not-so-temporary classrooms.
There’s just no joy here. Nothing makes me wish I was in the SLB more than walking through the thriving hub of West Campus to get to my seminar in a sad cream cabin in the car park. Get these on dark academia TikTok asap.
And in first place… Derwent
A surprise to no one, Derwent College took first place with 43 per cent of the final vote.
This maze of pure grey concrete has given Derwent a reputation for its unattractive appearance and has now been officially named by you, the ugliest building on the UoY campus. Building this right next to Heslington Hall was a choice, a very 60s one of that, that we all now have to live with.
Whilst the building is an eyesore it’s hard to say Derwent lacks life. From the surrounding natural landscape, the social life of the college, and, of course, it being home to Long Boi himself, Derwent has redeemable qualities to make up for its sad architecture. Having become so well known for it, I think Derwent’s ugliness now has a distinctive charm, which makes me not hate it quite as much as I could.