Whenever he thought about it, he felt terrible. And so, at last, he came to a fateful decision. He decided not to think about it. ~John-Roger and Peter McWilliams

Dear 100 Hour Board,

A friend of mine is possibly going to get the opportunity to talk with Roman Mars (host of the popular 99% Invisible podcast) on BYU radio. Roman's podcast deals with largely unnoticed aspects of urban design, explaining such things as what the spray-painted lines on the pavement mean to construction workers. It also relates stories of particularly interesting landmarks and the human stories behind them, and notes the interesting quirks that can still be seen today.

I was wondering if any of you know stories about BYU's design which would be worth relating. Are there names inscribed in concrete somewhere on campus? Does one of the buildings have a fully functional bathroom from the 60s? Is there an odd story as to why a door is built in such and such a manner? Anything that will make me look at something on campus differently would be marvelous.



Dear Naughty-lus,

Alas, it has been ages since you asked your question and it seems the chance I had to impart obscure architectural wisdom has disappeared entirely. This is tragic, so should you ever read this I hope you figured something out. TERRIBLY SORRY ABOUT THAT.

If you do read this, though, the strangest building on BYU Campus by far is the Harris Fine Arts Center, or HFAC. It has a strange dirt room going around the base of the entire DeJong performance hall basement, and other odd features, like a drawbridge, catwalks and closets full of props. Yes, I'm linking to my own answer, which contains other esoteric info about campus, including the locations of the Anechoic Chamber and Zombie Apocalypse Land.

A couple interesting past or present sites on BYU Campus you may not know about include:

  • our erstwhile Nuclear Research Lab on Maeser Hill (may it radiate in peace)
  • the oldest chunks of sidewalk on campus, and the associated buried communications vault from Board Question #4
  • The legendary Golden Trash Can of Edward L. Kimball in the J. Reuben Clark Law Building
  • BYU's Data Center, which lies below the Talmage Building and which cannot be accessed with appropriate clearance from the door on the Northeast corner of the building. In 2012, the Data Center lost massive amounts of data—much never recovered—in a terrible time of loss referred to simply as The Event.
  • The Special Collections Vaults in the library, whose oldest object is a clay tablet detailing a recipe for beer.
  • Elsewhere in the library, there exists both the thickest book, and the smallest.

To readers interested in the strange physical oddities of campus, if you use the Board's "Search" feature and select the "BYU- Campus (physical)" tag, you can unearth 2783+ other rumors of rooms, tunnels, buildings lost and gone, and terrible botanical advice (early Board readers and writers seemed to have both a disproportionate interest and fear of anything growing on a campus plant, often labeled as "poisonous berries). If that seems complicated, just click the tag at the top of this question, and you'll get about half that number of results. Why fewer, you ask? This, too, is a mystery.


--Ardilla Feroz

P.S. Bonus fact: Courtesy of She Who Must Not Be Named in Board Question #27047 (who also tells us Special Collections librarians are an excellent source of esoteric BYU knowledge) we learn there is a book in the library you may find useful called Brigham Young University: 1,000 Views of 100 Years, by Edwin Butterworth, Jr., which also contains the following fascinating caption: "During the hectic years of campus riots, the only protest demonstration ever held on BYU campus was by four freshman girls who appealed for larger portions of French fried potatoes in campus cafeterias."

P.P.S. People used to climb a "greased pole" in the intramural fields in the past? What even.