It didn’t look like much on the outside — or the inside, for that matter — but after a while, the building where he learned about architecture sort of grew on Jim Keating (MBA ’06).
“I originally came to UIUC for a graduate program in architecture that was designed for people with undergraduate degrees in some other field. I had an undergraduate degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in materials science and engineering, and my hope was to combine my advanced materials background with architecture,” Keating says Asia, where he now works on the R&D side with the Qatar Foundation.
“As I had been a graduate student before, at the University of Texas, I had certain expectations with regard to facilities and graduate student perks.
“Part of any architecture program is the ‘studio’ portion, which is where students spend all-nighters working on their respective design projects. Our class in this program was relatively small, so we got to know each other well. My classmates soon discovered that I didn’t have much of a filter when it came to communicating.
“One day, we walked as a group to a campus building that appeared rather sad and miserable on the outside. We entered and it was even worse on the inside, which was hard to imagine.
“I had no idea why were there and naturally assumed this would be the site of a new academic building, so perhaps we were there to design what beautiful structure would take its place. So I asked the professor when the building was scheduled for demolition.
“He said it wasn’t, and that this was in fact where our studios were located. I was horrified, because I thought especially in architecture our workspace would be awe-inspiring. Not the case. I soon learned that the building was so miserable, in fact, that very few, if any, faculty or university staff ever set foot in the place.
“One night, my compadres and I were working late, and we were commenting on how nice it would be to have some nice cold beer and maybe even a cigarette. Since nobody ever entered the building, we decided to buy beer and cigarettes, and to enjoy them in the studio while working. We drank the beer inside but smoked outside.
“Our classmates loved idea, followed suit, and they started bringing adult beverages to their respective workspaces during the evenings. This made for a very lively workplace.
“I soon realized that the freedom this building offered us far exceeded its ignominious appearance, so we were all thankful that we ended up there. About midway through my first year, I ended up enrolling in a dual masters program at U of I(architecture and MBA), gave up the architecture portion and completed the MBA.
"From there, I went on to work for a venture capital firm so I never actually used that portion of my education, but I don’t regret the time I spent with my classmates in architecture one bit.
“Those memories are priceless.”