7 weird & wonderful landmarks on college campuses

Kathleen Escarcha, staff writerKathleen Escarcha, senior staff writer

We scoured the web to round up some of the most notable campus landmarks around North America. Our list includes a celestial rock sculpture, the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere, and the site of a 300-million-year-old fossil.

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh

Standing at 535 feet, the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere. The 42-story building houses theaters, classrooms, offices, a food court, and a three-story common room. 

"Rock Rings," Western Washington University

The "Rock Rings" sculpture was designed by land artist Nancy Holt. The 10-foot tall structure, which is made of local stones, is designed to reflect the celestial layout of the North Star.

The Belfield Estate, La Salle University

The Belfield Estate is a National Historic Landmark with a 325-year history. Belfield, which now serves as administrative space for the university, has connections to the Underground Railroad and was the discovery site of a 300-million-year old fossil.

Wren Building, College of William & Mary

The Wren Building in Williamsburg, Virginia is the oldest continuously used academic building in the United States. The building, which was crafted by Sir Cristopher Wren in the 1700s, holds classrooms and faculty offices.

Sample House, Principia College

Principia's Sample House in Elsah, Illinois is an experimental structure designed by architect Bernard Maybeck. Maybeck originally intended to use the structure as a point of reference for methods and materials in new college construction. The little building illustrates various construction techniques, such as concrete, brick, stone, and terra cotta tile.

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Ponce de Leon Hotel, Flagler College

The Ponce de Leon Hotel in Saint Augustine, Florida was built in 1885 and was one of the first buildings in the nation to have electricity. Throughout the years, Ponce de Leon has served as a luxury resort, a military training base, and the site of one of the first sit-in demonstrations of the Civil Rights movement. In 1968, the hotel became the campus centerpiece for the newly established Flagler College.

Sharp Centre for Design, the Ontario College of Art & Design University

The iconic Sharpe Centre for Design is a two-story building that sits on 12 multi-colored steel legs and hovers over the college's main campus building. In 2013, the structure, which houses faculty members in design, arts, and liberal studies, was named one of the "five most influential buildings" in Toronto.  

(Fernandes, Mental Floss, 9/19/2010; Christensen, Thrillist, 9/22/2015; Flagler College site, accessed 8/15; Principedia College site, accessed 8/15; College of William & Mary site, accessed 8/15; Western Washington University site, accessed 8/15; Inscoe, Atlas Obscura, accessed 8/15; Grundhauser, Atlas Obscura, accessed 8/15; Ontario College of Art & Design University site, accessed 8/15).

What I learned from 23 college tours. Yes, 23.


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