Goodbye, Magic Mountain

ASU Main - Law South - 2009-03-04



If you’ve been around this summer, you’ve undoubtedly noticed some construction going on around the building.

As part of this construction, starting Monday, the large mound of rocks to the South of the Law Library will be dismantled to make way for a service road (don’t worry, the area adjacent to the Reserve Reading Room will still be nicely landscaped). This project will also fix drainage problems around the building and at the McAllister/Lemon intersection (crossing the street to get to the Rural Road parking structure after a monsoon will no longer require a grand jeté over lake that forms!).

As we bit adieu to our dear “Magic Mountain,” we thought we’d pay tribute by sharing its story.

Magic Mountain was not in the original plans for the building and was a happy accident. When the site for the Law Library was excavated to lay the foundation for the building, the dirt was piled up here. Ironically, the original building plan called for a service road through the area, but when that idea was nixed, the pile of dirt was covered with rock, peppered with Saguaros and turned into a landscape feature. It was mockingly dubbed “magic mountain” by law students, who disliked it (now we use that as a term of endearment!).

Law students were not the only ones unhappy with it in the beginning. An undergraduate student journalist’s State Press opinion column titled “Law Library Just Plain Ugly Building”  (Oct. 19, 1993) said:

This waste of space may have been put there for a purpose, but it looks like a mistake. It seems as if the construction company did not have any place to haul the dirt that remained after the dig so they put a bunch of expensive sandstone and saguaro on it to make it look like a work only the finest sculptor could create. They failed.

The article criticized the rest of the building as well, and incited a firestorm of newspaper articles responding to it.

In 2000, Magic Mountain was awarded an “Onion” by the Phoenix Business Journal (click here to read the article).

Love it or hate it, layers of this “onion” will be peeled away in the coming weeks. Magic Mountain has kept watch over the Reserve Reading Room for the past two decades. It has seen countless numbers of hard-working law students, has been a happy home to many ground squirrels (who have been safely relocated), and has even been climbed by naked people…twice (that we know of).

Whoever thought a pile of dirt and rocks would have such a colorful history?