Campbell hall circa 1999 or 2011
Campbell Hall circa Feb 2012 (aw!)
Back in 2000 I was a eager young prospective grad student choosing between Caltech physics and Berkeley Astronomy for the next 7 years of my life. When I visited Robinson Hall at Caltech (well before the crazy orange Cahill building), all of the students were in the basement. When I visited Campbell hall at Berkeley, all of the students were on the roof in the Cosmic Garden. There was a telescope dome in the middle of a courtyard in which a lemon tree and flowers grew. A flight of stairs led up to a bird's eye view of the Berkeley campus from 8 floors up, as well as an amazing vista of San Francisco, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
After taking in the view from the roof of Campbell for the first time I knew it was time to drop my life's ambition of physics grad school at Caltech for a new career at UC Berkeley. So what if I had to learn a brand new subject, a new unit system, and learn to plot things backwards (astro is weird that way)? Seven years of that view, indie rock shows in San Fran, a Thai restaurant on every corner, and the prospect of short-author-list papers in my second year all made my decision pretty straight-forward.
Things have changed a lot at Berkeley since I left. Most notably, Campbell Hall with its Cosmic Garden are soon to be no more, to make room for a new Astronomy building. It's pretty sad, but I'm glad there will be a new start for Berkeley Astro.
BTW, being sad about an inanimate object reminded my former Berkeley classmate, Karin, of this Ikea commercial (wait for it...):