If you’ve passed by North Quad or if you’ve spent a couple minutes perusing its grounds, you were probably impressed. This is a completely normal reaction, I assure you. But after living there for the past three months, I’ve got to tell you that North Quad is hardly the residential paradise you might imagine from a quick walk through its halls of faux marble.

To be sure, it starts out great. You walk into this beautiful new building and you can’t help but admire the delicately placed wood paneling and crown molding above. From sweeping windows, you take in a grand view of the “collegiate gothic” architecture as you look out into an impressive courtyard, replete with a colonnade and arched entryways. But soon you’ll notice — as you begin to text your friends about the building’s perfectly placed study spots — that you’re probably out of cell reception. Indeed, this is just the beginning. By this point, North Quad has you in its snare.

If you’re hungry and you have a meal plan, you might think you want to try out the cafeteria. After all, you’ve probably heard fantastical stories about the food there, but be forewarned. The dining hall will woo you with vaulted ceilings, chandeliers and a gourmet menu touting shark, sushi and creative tofu dishes. And admittedly, the food itself is pretty good. But the portions! Oy. If you enjoy a dish (perhaps a nice Midori vegetable medley) you’ll probably have to go up two or three times — and then wait in line — in order to get a satisfying amount of food. Sure, no one’s stopping you from going back to get as much as you want, but the crowded room will make doing so a real pain.

Of course, that’s the real problem about dining in North Quad — the crowd. If you’re hoping to find a table for four at lunch or dinnertime, you may have to wait a while to find a comfortable spot to enjoy that rack of lamb. There’s clearly nothing anyone can do about the limitation of physical space in the dining hall, but perhaps if its hours of operation were extended past the current impossibly short window of time, the bottleneck may ease up a bit. As of right now, the cafeteria is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. — and only on weekdays. For less congestion, University Housing ought to consider extending the hours to go continuously from lunch through dinner. That’s what East and South Quads do, and it seems to work swimmingly.

And if you want breakfast during the week, you’d better have blue bucks or dining dollars to pay for the à la carte menu. This, too, is a despicable fact of life in North Quad. Diners in its state-of-the-art cafeteria deserve the same breakfast opportunities as their counterparts in other dining halls. How can North Quad residents go on to cure cancer or win a Pulitzer Prize if their meal plan doesn’t allow them to conveniently eat the most important meal of the day?

But I digress. While food may be the first thing on my mind, one could argue that the real North Quad experience is upstairs — where residents actually live. So how about those top seven floors? Apart from the pleasant color schemes and mod furniture in the study lounges, the rooms themselves aren’t all that different from those in older dorms. My single room, at least, is almost identical to my previous single in East Quad, but with none of the charm. And the closet space is practically nil.

At first I was thrilled to see that with new lighting technology, the rooms and hallways in North Quad at least have the illusion of conserving energy. But when you take into account that there are two plasma screen televisions on every floor — one of which is on at all times to showcase the North Quad Twitter feed — you realize that this commitment to energy conservation is only half-hearted. And though two of the University’s recent building projects have LEED certification, North Quad isn’t among them. To be fair, many components of the building — from water flow controls to maximal insulation to the heating system — are all reportedly eco-friendly. But with a price tag of $175 million, the University could’ve sprung for the qualifications necessary for all-out LEED certification.

Surely, North Quad has its merits. But when everyone on campus is raving about it, I can’t help but point out its imperfections. As I always say, it may have dual flush toilets, but its toilet paper is as coarse as ever. I know you know what I’m talking about. Needless to say, the University’s latest residence hall doesn’t sit well with me. And, clearly, that’s not just because of the toilet paper.

Matthew Green can be reached at greenmat@umich.edu.

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