This article was originally published in Lot’s Wife Edition 6: Parody
In one of the now long lost editions of Lot’s Wife 2011, the then impeccably dressed and now Melbourne defector Thomas Whiteside wrote a piece about an unusual love, his love for the Menzies building.
For all of its faults the building had character and an odd charm. I remember reading it and feeling an odd affection for Clayton’s biggest concrete eyesore and the next time I walked onto campus I was expecting that nostalgia to kick back in but as I walked through its revolving doors, passed its functioning elevators and its busy café I came to a sad conclusion.
You’ve changed Menzies building, you used to be cool.
You may still be the great grey behemoth, scarring the Clayton landscape but on the inside you’re just not the same. Back when I started in 20fuckoffimold the Menzies building was a very different creature – and it actually hits me that I am probably in the minority of students who could possibly remember what the old Menzies building was like. The wind tunnel was much the same as it always was and always has been. The walkway itself isn’t actually straight, there’s a slight kink in the angle which was put in in an attempt to minimize the potential for gusts to be magnified in the tight space. What this actually did was make the wind tunnel situation a hell of a lot worse – and it was designed by a Melbourne student.
The interior – think concrete gulag. Uninspired and utilitarian, functional and boring with a thigh burning central staircase that actually offered some pretty awesome views from the study spaces that occupied the spaces that occurred every half level. It’s a shame to have lost those views in favour of savvy sliding glass door meeting rooms for academic staff to gather in and pretend to be productive.
The first time I ever went up to the 11th floor was during an orientation tour run by SAS (yes the tour guide was drunk). “Don’t worry if you feel like the building is swaying – you will get used to that” “Is it because the building is tall?” “No it’s because the building is swaying”. It isn’t anymore. What I miss most though are the central escalators. Possessed by the spirit of MC Escher many an under caffeinated student drone had their morning stupor interrupted by walking up an escalator that should have been going up but was instead going down – surprise halts or direction changes were also sometimes on the cards. Kept you on your toes.
It was boring, it was ugly and occasionally (and especially during the renovations) it even tried to kill you, but it was ours and it had something personable about it. Now, it’s sold out with its bright and spacious interior, colourful design palate and stupid warped glass, it’s just another corporate university beehive wearing a Soviet frock.