AN UNFORTUNATELY-STILL-EXTANT BUILDING – Much to the chagrin of students, faculty, and sighted people everywhere, last month’s flooding of the North Quad residence hall has failed to completely and utterly destroy the Dennison Building, the universally-loathed architectural disaster that continues to mock passersby with its enduring presence.
“At first, when I heard that North Quad was flooding, I was like, ‘Oh, shit!’” said LSA sophomore and North Quad resident Alan Thomas. “All my stuff was in my room and I didn’t even have insurance, so naturally I was pretty concerned. But then I had a happy thought – that some of that sewage water might flow out of the building, take a right at the Diag, continue on through the Engineering Arch, and eventually make its way to 500 Church Street. Unfortunately for all of us, that didn’t happen,” he lamented.
The David M. Dennison Building, which was named for a man who probably did not deserve such a desecration of his legacy, has been hated by generations of humans with a basic sense of taste and visual aesthetics. According to campus legend, architect Albert Kahn built the 12-story tower on a dare to see who could design the most hideous structure using only red brick. To this day, it remains unclear whether Kahn or Louis Franks, the designer of the Modern Languages Building, won that bet.
As this newspaper first reported in 2010, the Dennison Building was constructed during the Second World War, when all capable architects were deployed overseas. University administrators briefly considered converting it into a federal prison to make novel use of its cell-like floor plan, but President Obama later bent to political pressure and kept Guantánamo Bay open instead. Presently, campus tour leaders are under strict orders to pretend the entire building is an optical illusion; if pressed, they must state that Dennison is the satellite campus of Michigan State University in Ann Arbor.
Other disasters that have been reported by the Every Three Weekly and have failed to destroy the Dennison Building include the nearby demolition of the CCRB (March 2012), the sacking of the classical-civilizations department at the hands of the barbarian-studies department (September 2010), and a local airshow that nearly ended in tragedy (October 2011). After Dennison was found to be standing following each catastrophe, an audible groan could be heard emanating from the deepest reaches of the Diag.
At press time, the building whose shape inspired the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey still existed and was likely to provide fodder to satire writers at the University of Michigan for decades to come.
Originally published: April 2013