“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be the motto of Drexel University, although, to be honest, the second half of that statement seems increasingly pronounced when one gets to know the campus. On the surface, everything looks functional and beautiful; Millennium is a soaring structure of beauty that is reserved for the incoming, idyllic freshmen and the Summit is an affirmation of Drexel’s ability to put up buildings in brief windows of time.
When I first decided to come to Drexel, I knew that the biggest decision I made would be which dorm I chose to live in. It would be my home for the next three terms, where I ate, slept and worked. Many memories would be created there and for every mark that was left on the walls, a mark would be left on me. The experience would define my time at Drexel and I wanted the best that I could get. Millennium Hall was the obvious choice, but it filled up so quickly that I had no hope of possibly getting in. I chose Towers Hall instead just because I figured the oldest building on campus would have the smallest amount of kinks to work out.
After a brief adjustment period, Towers was fantastic. The people on the floor were amazing and the dorm itself had a lot of space to capitalize on. The lounge furniture was covered in every sort of stain you could imagine and some that you refused to acknowledge and the walls bulged in odd places. The heater smelled like burning people when it turned on and was only topped by a microwave that spit out noise and radiation in equal amounts. The carpet made shoes a necessity and the shower curtains were not supposed to be black. Yet, despite all these oddities, Towers was home to me. The kitchen was big and functional and you learned to live with the broken things. It was an old building, after all, and it was thus entitled to the occasional broken pipe or chair.
When I heard that I would be moving to Millennium over the summer because of the housing arrangements for the STAR Scholars Program, you could imagine my excitement. A building that was built in this century? Yes please. Walking into Millennium for the first time was surreal, but not for the reason I had imagined. Everything was concrete, the walls felt like they were taken directly from the pages of a dystopian horror novel where everyone is locked in an underground vault together. It certainly felt that way because, surprise, every door locks behind you so good luck if you forgot your key while taking a shower. The front desk, during the summer, apparently cannot give you a spare without first calling the official person who informs you that it will be 20-30 minutes before they can be bothered to come over. The showers themselves are nothing to brag about as both the water temperature and pressure seem to be a lot lower than desired. Lukewarm has never had a positive connotation until you come here and have to beg for the faintest wisp of warmth.
The couches are actually worse than those at Towers, and how they managed that, I haven’t the slightest. The chairs are, I wish I was kidding, about $330 each and have the distinct advantage of being made of cold metal so they have a beautifully vocal interaction with the tile floors. It makes it difficult to get along with your neighbors when they are up until 2:30 a.m. because at that point, so are you. Only the left side of the stovetop works so the 30 people on the floor attempting to cook at the same time have to share the two burners that take an eternity to turn on.
For a school of engineers, many of the buildings here seem to lack the forethought and planning that goes hand-in-hand with any sort of engineering. From the categories of form and function, Millennium seems to fall into neither. It is not expected that the school builds a palace to appease their incoming hopefuls, but a few common amenities would be nice. Perhaps, when they tear down this monument to man’s arrogance they can put up a building that will include some degree of insight into the possible problems. Until that day though, I guess we will just have to live with it.