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UH Is A Real Beauty

Is the University of Houston campus really among the most beautiful in the nation?

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At night, the M.D. Anderson Library is illuminated by Jim Sanborn's beautiful A,A sculpture. Photo via My Full Name is Ali
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The both the Cullen Family Fountain and the art deco Ezekiel W. Cullen Building are some of the most beautiful parts of the University of Houston's campus. Courtesy photo
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The stained concrete of Hofheinz Pavillion doesn't exactly scream "Most Beautiful Campus." Courtesy photo
University of Houston, Robertson Stadium demolition
With so much construction on campus over the last few years, it isn't so beautiful right now, but it will be once it's all completed. Photo by Joel Luks
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Why not include Rice University? The school, known for its beautiful campus, recently opened the incredible James Turrell Skyspace. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
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News_University of Houston
Places-Unique-Hofheinz Pavilion-exterior-1
University of Houston, Robertson Stadium demolition
015_Turrell Skyspace opening, June 2012, lights, illumination.jpg
Elizabeth Rhodes head shot column mug December 2013

ProFascinate, a website that specializes in lists of all kinds, recently released a list of the Top 10 Most Beautiful College Campuses. The University of Houston's main campus, surprisingly, came in at No. 3.

As a UH student, I truly love the school and think it is a wonderful institution. However, having spent a lot of time on campus, I'm not sure that it is the No. 3 most beautiful campus in the nation — or that it deserves a place on the list at all.

 Having spent a lot of time on campus, I'm not sure that it is the No. 3 most beautiful campus in the nation — or that it deserves a place on the list at all.

 Yes, there are beautiful parts. Passing by the expansive Cullen Family Plaza Fountain in front of the wonderfully art deco Ezekiel W. Cullen Building can be a delightful and calming experience. And the front of the M.D. Anderson Library is lovely at night when carefully illuminated by Jim Sanborn's A,A sculpture. The school also has a number of interesting sculptures strategically placed around campus, helping to break up the monotony of open space and building cubes.

"The fountains on campus truly make it a remarkable and beautiful place to further your studies," said ProFascinate of the university. While I agree that the Cullen Fountain is beautiful, the only other water features on campus (there are only two) are very small and often dirty. 

The listmakers certainly overlooked some of the least attractive parts of campus, like Hofheinz Pavillion. The stained, windowless veneer of the decrepit multi-purpose sports arena  isn't exactly inviting to the university's fans. Thankfully though, the school announced the building will soon undergo a $40 million renovation, one which is sure to improve its appearance.

Too much construction

Another issue is the incessant construction that's taken place over the last few years, and it has a great deal to do with my impression of the campus and its beauty. I know construction is only a temporary problem that will ultimately lead to more beautiful buildings and I would have no problem with the school being named "Most Beautiful" when it's all finished. But not now.

And what about Rice University? The school is known for its lush trees and iconic brick buildings, as well as the addition of James Turrell's incredible Skyspace installation in 2012. So if we're talking about beautiful schools, I would place Rice above the University of Houston — and Rice isn't even on the list. Neither are colleges like Duke, Stanford and Princeton that normally make a list like this.

ProFascinate's Top 10 list — which names only public universities although the list's description doesn't specify — includes Ohio State, Penn State, the University of Missouri and the University of Miami.

With a new 40,000 seat stadium under construction and other building improvements on the way, I believe the UH campus will live up to its spot on the "Most Beautiful Campus" list, so let's check back in a few years.

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