view of DH Hill Library, the Brickyard, and Harrelson Hall

The Guide to NC State You Didn’t Know You Wanted

NC State University is huge. On just Main Campus alone, there are academic buildings, hangouts like the Brickyard and Court of Carolinas, and landmarks like the Belltower all packed into one brick-paved area in the center of Raleigh. It’s like its own town. And with more than a century of growth and innovation, it’s no wonder that Main Campus comes with its share of history.

Interesting Stories About the Buildings on Main Campus

Let’s talk numbers real quick: NC State has 11 academic colleges, 65 departments, and 300+ undergraduate and graduate degree programs, all of which are located on 3 large campuses. Main Campus has most of the general education classes, like your sciences and maths and humanities.

Main Campus was also the first campus established by the university, so there are plenty of buildings that have cool sculptures or interesting stories behind them. Whether you have classes in these buildings or not, they’re worth a special visit.

1911 Building (College of Humanities & Social Sciences)

Most buildings are named after a single person. The 1911 building was named after an entire graduating class.

You’ll find the 1911 Building sitting regally above the staircase to the Court of Carolinas. Instead of being named after a single influential figure like most of NC State’s buildings, the 1911 Building is named after an entire graduating class.

Back in the 1900s, hazing was pretty common at colleges, so NC State University freshmen had to endure all sorts of initiations. The Class of 1911, however, decided that they would not continue this tradition as sophomores. Sure enough, the next year they ended hazing rituals and left the new class of freshmen alone. Well, almost. They relieved any new vs. old student tension with a good ol’-fashioned fist fight at the beginning of the year. (We’re not kidding.)

Another fun fact: The 1911 Building is the only place you can find Pepsi products on NC State University’s campus. That’s because the 1911 Building Snack Bar isn’t actually run by the college; it’s administered by NC Division of Services for the Blind and was established long before University Dining was a thing.

What classes are held in the 1911 Building: The 1911 Building is home to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (more commonly known as CHASS, which is much easier to say); specifically, it’s home to the departments of Interdisciplinary Studies, Social Work, and Sociology & Anthropology.

Bostian Hall (College of Sciences)

building at NC State University
Back in 2014, a dead black bear was found on a bench outside Bostian Hall.

Bostian Hall is the building you have to cross under to get from the Brickyard to the Marye Anne Fox labs. It’s not the architecture that makes it interesting, but it’s the the viral story it was swept up in.

It’s 2014. Olympic athletes at the games in Sochi, Russia have single-handedly started a new generation of memes, Ellen DeGeneres has just taken an Internet-breaking selfie at the Academy Awards, and a 200-pound black bear has been dumped on NC State’s campus right outside Bostian Hall.

You read right. A black bear. What’s weirder is that the bear was dead — likely from being hit by a car, according to this article — and had been moved to a bench outside Bostian Hall. This mystery still hasn’t been solved.

What classes are held in Bostian Hall: Bostian Hall is home to the department of Biological Sciences within the College of Sciences (COS).

Brooks Hall (College of Design)

Brooks Hall at NCSU
Brooks Hall looks a lot like Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia.
Yep, the “Fit to Be Tied” sculpture outside Brooks Hall is hollow.

It’s only fitting that Brooks Hall, NC State’s first library and current home of the College of Design, looks like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Its columns and stairs are made of marble, which is an unusual sight on the almost all-brick campus.

Brooks Hall has what looks like a knot of steel tubing sitting just outside the entrance. That sculpture, “Fit to Be Tied,” is one of several outdoor art pieces near the building. (And yes, it’s hollow. Check out this video from 2007 of someone climbing into it. We don’t recommend trying it yourself, though.)

What classes are held in Brooks Hall: Brooks Hall is home to the College of Design and its departments of Architecture, Art & Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Landscape Architecture.

Burlington Nuclear Engineering Lab (College of Engineering)

garden by NC State nuclear lab
There’s a beautiful garden hiding behind NC State’s nuclear reactor.

Yep, NC State has its own nuclear reactor on campus. It’s here on Main Campus in the Burlington Nuclear Engineering Lab.

Back in 1955 when a little thing called The Cold War was in full swing, NC State made headlines when it built a nuclear reactor on campus. The thing was, though, it was the first nuclear reactor in the world that was going to be used for education, not war. Having the reactor on campus is likely one of the reasons that NC State’s Nuclear Engineering program has a #5 ranking from US News & World Report.

Oh, and let’s not forget the garden that’s behind the building. Officially known as the “Gardner Arboretum,” it’s where you can find beautiful flowers, a couple of swinging benches, and the statue of the Strolling Professor. (Be sure to rub his head for good luck before your first test!)

What classes are held in Burlington Nuclear Engineering Lab: This building is home to the Department of Nuclear Engineering within the College of Engineering.

Caldwell Hall (College of Humanities & Social Sciences)

brick building on Hillsborough Street
Caldwell Hall used to be known as the Link Building.

There are actually three buildings along Hillsborough Street near the Belltower — Winston Hall, Caldwell Hall, and Tompkins Hall. It’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins (from the outside at least), so that’s partly why Caldwell Hall was originally named the Link Building. It was built in 1981 and connects Winston to Tompkins.

But Caldwell is the one with all of the cool stuff inside. Of course there are classrooms and computer labs, but the lounge is what sets this building apart from its neighbors. The lounge has snack machines, plenty of tables and couches, a beautiful piano, and huge windows that overlook the Court of Carolinas.

What classes are held in Caldwell Hall: The School of Public & International Affairs and its departments of Political Science and Public Administration are here, all of which fall within the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHASS).

Carmichael Gymnasium (Division of Academic & Student Affairs)

gymnasium at NCSU
Carmichael Gym has parts built in the ’60s, ’80s, and ’90s. It’s been through renovations in the 2010s, too.

If you’ve taken a gym class at NC State, you’re all to familiar with this gigantic recreation building. But Carmichael Gym is actually comprised of the original 1962 facility, a huge addition with a pool and indoor track that was built in 1984, and the Casey Aquatic Center that was built in 1992.

Carmichael Gym wasn’t the first gym on campus. Holladay Hall had a gym in the basement. When the university expanded, a new gym was built in 1925. You’ll never guess where: Thompson Hall. Yep, that’s the same building that’s now home to University Theater.

Carmichael Gym, though, doesn’t include the recreation center, which was built in 2007. That’s a separate building altogether. But Carmichael Gymnasium and Carmichael Recreation Center together make up the Carmichael Complex. (If you eat up history just like we do, you’ll love this cool timeline of Carmichael’s history.)

What classes are held in Carmichael Gymnasium: Most health classes and gym classes are held here. The gym is home to the Department of Health & Exercise Studies within the Division of Academic & Student Affairs (DASA).

Cox Hall (College of Sciences)

Cox Hall was named after NC State’s first female professor, who founded the Department of Statistics.

Cox Hall and Dabney Hall are the two brick and concrete buildings overlooking the spot where Harrelson Hall used to be. Though they’re connected, Cox Hall was built a few years before Dabney in the ’60s.

Cox Hall was named for Gertrude Mary Cox, NC State’s first female full professor and an intellectual badass. She earned a BS in mathematics and an MS in statistics from Iowa State University (and earned the university’s first master’s in that field), became a professor and head of the Department of Experimental Statistics at NC State, established the Department of Biostatistics at UNC, founded the Biometric Society, was the first woman elected to the International Statistical Institute, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, all within her lifetime.

What classes are held in Cox Hall: College of Sciences, its instrument shops, and the DELTA Testing Center on Main Campus are located in this building.

Leazar Hall (College of Design)

leazar hall at nc state as seen from kamphoefner hall
Before it held studios for the College of Design, Leazar Hall was the campus dining hall.

It’s 1912, and more than 600 students are attending NC State University. Several dormitories and academic buildings have opened up, but the university needs a large dining hall to serve the growing campus. That’s where Leazar Hall comes in.

Built to seat 750 students initially, Leazar Hall served as NC State’s main dining hall up until the 1970s. It was eventually expanded to seat about 1,800 students. But Leazar wasn’t just the dining hall. For a few years in the late 1930s it was also home to the university’s laundry service and student bookstore.

What classes are held in Leazar Hall: Today, Leazar is home to studios and a materials lab within the College of Design.

Park Shops (DASA and CHASS)

park shops at nc state
There’s a reason Park Shops looks like a machine shop — it’s because it used to be one.

Woodworking and machine shop classes used to be taught in this building, which looks like an old industrial warehouse plucked out of a shipping wharf. The building was built in 1914 but was renovated in 2009.

What classes are held in Park Shops: This building is home to the University Tutorial Center (DASA), DELTA classrooms, and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology (CHASS).

Good Luck with Classes

If you want a more in-depth guide to campus, like a list of off-campus restaurants and information about where to park, you can find all of that in the student commuter’s guide to NC State University.