Kent Whispers: Arizona Campus?

Words by Kelly Powell | Illustration by Thomas Haase

Myth: Kent State University’s Kent campus was designed for a university in Arizona.

This whisper: False

If you’ve ever watched someone walk into class with a disheveled head of hair or felt the after-effects of an intense beating by some top-speed breezes, chances are you and that student have made it through what is affectionately known as the Kent State wind tunnel at one point or another.

This drafty section of campus is located near the campus library and gets particularly gusty on Risman Plaza, continuing into the areas around Eastway Center and the Science Mall. It has remained a mystery why this spot produces Kent’s trademark winds, and one theory proposes that the campus was originally designed for a university in Arizona.

Michael Bruder, executive director for Facilities, Planning and Design, says, however, that the campus was never intended for the southwestern state.

“There is nothing in our records that indicate anything about it being designed for Arizona,” he says.

Instead, the wind can best be explained by simple architectural decisions.

“The best explanation of the windy effect is that the library is so tall, accentuating the wind’s effect,” he says. “Taller wind affects the building more than gravity or earthquakes.”

Bruder says a solution to the speedy currents would be to add a one-story addition to the library, so that the turbulence would happen above the building rather than toward students just trying to make the commute to a lecture hall.

“I was a student at Kent in the late ’80s, and the rumor was going around then,” Bruder says.

So, rest assured, Ohio citizens; despite what people say, Kent State’s campus was intended only for us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *