Deputy Editor Youngweon ranks frat houses on how ugly they are based on her own arbitrary standards. This list goes from least ugly to most ugly.
8. Delta Sigma Phi: The exterior looks surprisingly clean. Nothing about this building is particularly ugly. It’s really unremarkable. The little alcove (for lack of a better word) thing that sticks out on the first and second floors is cute, so bonus points for that. The windows are not highly ornamented but rather decorated with simple lintels. Someone who didn’t know that this was a frat house may even call it elegant. The more intricate cornice keeps it from being too boring. The plain cement base that makes up the first floor and the metal bars of the windows are a little off-putting, but all things considered, that’s a small defect. The fact that the building is comprised of three different materials (the cement base, the whiter, larger stones of the second story alcove, and the narrow bricks of the rest of the building) can either be annoying or exciting, depending on how you look at it. The cornice above the door is also a nice little addition.
7. Sigma Phi Epsilon: This is the only picture in this post that is not of shitty quality because it is the only picture that was submitted by a brother of the fraternity. Every other picture was taken by me, trying to get a good angle to include the whole brownstone in the picture, which means standing in the middle of the street to take the picture, which makes me look really sketchy. I also had to make sure no brother was watching me take the picture because I didn’t want to look suspicious. Sig Ep isn’t the second-least-ugly house because of the quality of the picture though; The red door makes for a good pop of color. The stairs of the stoop have cement rails that are wide at the bottom and narrows towards the door, making a welcoming entrance. It’s also something nice and sturdy to grab onto for the drunkards stumbling out of the house. However, apart from the red door and the entryway, the house looks just really boring. It’s not ugly, per se, but it doesn’t even have the cute alcove thing that DSig has. The walls are also streaky and sooty. A bit gross. The windows are even more boring and undecorated than DSig’s.
6. Sigma Nu: Like Sig Ep, but more boring. I apologize for how shitty this picture is. Other than the fact that it was taken at night, when I was standing in the middle of the street, trying to get the right angle while not getting hit by a rogue taxi, two brothers who were walking to the house saw me. Instead of just minding their own business and going into the house, they decided to stand there and watch me, which made me self-conscious and flustered. I hid behind a white van across the street until they stopped staring at me. That was the most exciting thing that I had to say about Sig Nu’s house. I already noted its boring exterior, but I would just like to reiterate that the house is just really boring. The geometric patterns formed by the stones on the bottom of the façade would add a statement if every other brownstone on the street didn’t also have the same thing going on. The nicely rounded doorway and the ornamented strip above the second-floor windows are the only reasons that Sig Nu isn’t further down this list. The round stripes (?) above the fourth-floor windows are also all right.
5. Lambda Phi Epsilon: This brownstone looks unremarkable at first sight, but look into it a little. The ionic columns in the doorway are nice, as well as the ornaments between and above the windows. The cornice above the third-floor windows with the geometric pattern is a nice touch. The top cornice is nice and elaborate without being too funky. The bricks and stones are dark and risk looking sooty, but it’s not as streaky as Sig Ep or Sig Nu’s façade. The bottom floor window has bars, but the iron is ornamental and avoids looking ugly. The problem here is that when all of this comes together in the façade of one single building, everything clashes and looks ugly. The two cornices (above the third-floor windows and above the fourth-floor windows) have different patterns, which is confusing, and the bottom one is slightly curved, which just looks weird. The top cornice and the ornaments around the second-story windows are carved with a more similar theme in mind, but they the colors are different. The different colors and materials of the bottom floor façade, the cornices, the main brick wall, and the ornamental strips also make a bit of a clusterfuck.
4. Sigma Chi: Why is this house shaped so weirdly? It’s like someone took this brownstone and literally squished it from either side. If that’s the thing you’re into, dear reader, I respect that, but I don’t dig it. I also don’t like these rust-red bricks. The bars on the first and second-floor windows look sinister. They aren’t even in pretty, elaborate shapes or anything; they just look like jail cell bars. One redeeming factor is the colorful ΣΧ above the middle second-floor window. The blue and yellow provide a contrast to the red background and complete the trio of primary colors. The yellow Χ especially stands out. It’s a cheery addition to an otherwise dreary, weird-looking building. The doorway also gets some bonus points. The arch above the door and the relief in the arch adds a nice detail, but the bottom of the building with its smoother, lighter-colored stones clash with the red brick above.
3. Alpha Delta Phi: While every other frat house on this list is two normal windows wide (=three narrow windows wide), ADP has a house that is three normal windows wide. Excuse this non-professional terminology; I’m not an architecture major, nor have I ever taken art hum. The point is that their house is wider than most other frat houses as if to reiterate to the world that they are not like your average frat. It’s reminiscent of Cole Sprouse saying “I’m weird. I’m a weirdo. I don’t fit in, and I don’t want to fit in” in Riverdale. If Cole Sprouse went to Columbia, he’d probably be in ADP. The building also looks rather charred. I don’t know if that’s because of the New York dirt, the color of the bricks, or because it is actually charred, but the building nevertheless gives a rather menacing vibe. The dark bricks on the top and the smoother, light stones on the bottom clash, making the whole building look discordant. The way the roof is shaped is interesting, but that ornament at the top is reminiscent of a satanic cult. The lintels are simple, like DSig’s, but really sooty and dirty.
2. Kappa Delta Rho: Horrible color scheme. There are those rust-red bricks that Sig Chi thought was a good idea, but KDR took it a step further and applied the color to the window frames as well. The house is very narrow and plain. The red bricks look visibly dirty. If the wall were white, it would look very streaky and sooty. There is consistency in the color scheme, but that doesn’t add points if it’s consistently ugly. It’s such a depressing red. There are no redeeming factors. The bars on the first-floor window are ornamental but look straight and plain especially from a direct frontal view. So it’s even worse because additional effort went into trying to make those bars look nice, but they look like jail cell bars regardless. They don’t have much of a stoop; it’s narrow and relatively low.
1. Beta Theta Pi: Everything bad about every other frat house I’ve already mentioned, all in one very ugly façade. There are the dirty soot marks, the ugly red bricks, the clashing cornices, the round cornice, the lackluster stoop, and the ugly bars on the first-floor windows. In addition to that, it’s colorful, and not in a good way. It’s gaudy, tacky, and plain old ugly. As if that wasn’t enough, the inscription above the door is a line from Dante’s Inferno: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Honorary mention: Phi Gamma Delta, a.k.a Fiji. An anonymous brother once said to me that Fiji is the “gentleman hobo of Columbia frats.” Do with that what you will.
Frat Houses via Youngweon Lee, Sig Ep House via Anonymous Sig Ep Brother