Curious: Why are Harper’s building letters out of order?


Map directory taken from the Harper College Website (2022).

This question seems to have everybody stumped.

As of right now, no one knows exactly why the buildings have assigned letters that are out of order. 

Stephen Petersen, the Campus Architect, has a lot of information on the buildings, but there is no clear-cut answer to what why the buildings were assigned the way that they were.

“The letters are assigned and are required by the state of Illinois. They require every building to have a letter designation,” Pettersen stated. “There is a vacant letter of K right now… so maybe K [will be the next building].”

The original campus buildings (A through F) were built in 1967. The schematics also had shown the same mismatch of buildings going in a non-alphabetical order. 

Site blueprint of Harper College, June 15, 1967.

It is unclear what the architect at the time had planned for assigning the campus buildings with letters, Petersen concluded. 

So why don’t we just reassign all the buildings to have all the buildings go in order?

Petersen reasoned that doing that would require a lot of work in changing things from the buildings to the online directory.

“We really can’t redo all the letters because that would entail a complete reassignment of all the buildings, maps and websites,” Petersen claimed.

The buildings’ letters would have to be changed at the top and that would require a lot of work, time and money to change letters around physically on the buildings. Some argue the trouble is not worth it. 

Coincidentally, the parking lots had the same problem of being out of order as new parking lots were added to the area surrounding Harper. However, they were easier to change compared to the buildings.

Communication Arts professor Jeff Przybylo, who has worked at Harper for 26 years, said he recalled the time the administration under president Dr. Robert Breuder had assigned names to many of the buildings in an attempt to replace their letter identities. For example, “Building L” became the “Liberal Arts Building.”

But the decision came with some controversy as it disturbed many of the internal systems used in the school–everything from the mail system, software for scheduling, emergency systems,–and created more issues than it seemed to solve. So, the administration went back to emphasize the letters, adding extra-large letter signs that were well lit, to the buildings.