Not only does UC Berkeley have a rich history, but it also has a vibrant campus with many cool and interesting hidden gems! We at the Clog have compiled our list of some of the things you may or may not have known about UC Berkeley.
- If you haven’t already noticed, most of the administrative buildings on campus, as well as many lecture halls, have only one door handle. This architectural design wasn’t always the case — there’s actually an interesting story behind it. During the Free Speech Movement led by Mario Savio from 1964-65, protesters chained the door handles of the chancellor’s office closed until the chancellor listened to their demands. Following this episode, campus authorities removed one door handle from each of the buildings on campus to prevent a similar scenario from happening in the future!
- You must’ve passed the semicircular bench near the Campanile steps tons of times on the way to class. But what you may not have known is that the bench is fondly known as the “whispering bench.” The name is due to the fact that any two people sitting across from each other on the bench can hear one another clearly despite speaking barely above a whisper!
- The real dinosaur fossils and skeletal remains of the T. rex on display in the Valley Life Sciences Building, or VLSB, atrium are preserved underground beneath the Campanile.
- Outside the north entrance of VLSB is another semicircular bench. This bench, however, has an echo effect instead! Find the perfect spot right in the middle of the semicircular bench facing the wall and you’ll be met with an echo of anything you say!
- Wurster Hall, which houses the architecture department and the College of Environmental Design, is arguably one of the most unappealing buildings on campus — some might say it even looks worse than Evans Hall. This is quite ironic given that the UC Berkeley architecture program is ranked among the top architecture departments in the world. It was built this way for specific reasons, however. Firstly, the building was constructed using eco-friendly and sustainable materials and paints. More importantly, it was an attempt to prevent architecture students from drawing inspiration for their projects from Wurster Hall itself!
- The cyclotron, a particle accelerator, is used in cancer therapy, industrial/manufacturing and nuclear physics, among many others things, was invented at UC Berkeley by Ernest Lawrence and patented in 1930. In fact, it’s the development of the cyclotron that enabled UC Berkeley scientists to consequently discover 16 elements of the periodic table from Neptunium (93) to Seaborgium (106)!
- Walking into a bear statue at least five times a day on the way to class is not uncommon for a UC Berkeley student. But do you know where the smallest bear statue is located? It can be found in the third ring of the balcony railing of South Hall. It’s almost invisible to the naked eye from the ground level.
- Joan Brown, a world-renowned Bay Area artist who found her calling at the young age of 20 when she was studying at the California School of Fine Art, was a faculty member at UC Berkeley from 1974 onward until her death in 1990. Today, an internationally recognized figurative artist, she has her works featured at galleries in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among many others.
We at the Clog love hearing about the lesser-known mysteries of our wonderful campus, so if you have anything else on your list, feel free to email us!