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Sorting Out the Beams and Bigelows

Don't know how to pronounce Pida Plaza? Or where Doc Rando Hall is? Here's your guide to confusing campus places.

UNLV History  |  Aug 28, 2017  |  By Diane Russell
Bigelow Physics Building and Bigelow Health Sciences Building

The Robert L. Bigelow Physics Building, left, and the Rod Lee Bigelow Health Sciences Building. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Don’t know your Wright from your White? Confused about which Ham will help you satisfy your hunger for culture? You’re not alone.

With so many individual buildings dotting UNLV’s main campus , it’s easy to get confused — especially when the names are eerily similar, often thanks to incredibly generous families of donors who share the same surname, or sound alike courtesy of happenstance. 

Here's our list of UNLV place names that tend to trip people up. To actually find your way to specific buildings, pull up our interactive map (it's cellphone friendly!) or visit the campus maps website to print one out.

Want to add to the list or have a question about why something is the way it is on campus? Leave a comment below or send us an email.

Same-Surname Conundrum 

First up are the Beams. We have at least four locations on campus named after various members of this family:

  • Frank and Estella Beam Hall, home to both the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration (at least until Hospitality Hall opens next year) and the Lee Business School. When people say Beam Hall, they usually mean this one.
  • Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex is, of course, home to the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering. It's often just called the “engineering building.” 
  • Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center is next to the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building. (More about the Ham family later.)
  • The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery is a space located within the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building. Note that the gallery is singular "Art" while the building is plural. 

The names Thomas & Mack are attached to at least three locations on campus. The best known, no doubt, is the Thomas & Mack Center, home to the Runnin’ Rebels, the National Finals Rodeo, and major community events (such as that Presidential Debate we keep hearing so much about). It is named after two prominent Nevada bankers, E. Parry Thomas and Jerome Mack,who donated the original funds for the feasibility and land studies. The Thomas & Mack Warehouse is so named to simply describe the storage facility that serves the T&M Center. The Thomas & Mack Moot Court Facility at the William S. Boyd School of Law, however, definitely honors the donors who helped build it.

The big-hearted Bigelow family has given us both the Rod Lee Bigelow Health Sciences Building and the Robert L. Bigelow Physics Building. Both are located on the east-west mall, so at least if you go to the wrong one, you won’t have to walk far to correct your mistake.

Hungry yet? We’ve got plenty of Ham. First, there’s Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall, which hosts concerts, ballets, and even the occasional troupe of injury-defying acrobats. Then there’s the previously mentioned Alta Ham Fine Arts Building. The latter is located just down the steps and to the east of the former.

UNLV hosts two buildings with "university" in the name and both are rather modest. University Hall is one of our oldest buildings and home to UNLV’s Army ROTC program. (Air Force ROTC is in the Carlson Education Building.) The University Systems Building is used by property control.

Hard to Find

In this category we have a few spaces within places:

  • The Black Box Theatre is a small performance space located inside the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building.
  • Philip J. Cohen Theatre can be found inside the Student Union.
  • Doc Rando Recital Hall is a music venue located within the Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center. It’s also home to the Maureen Jackson Pipe Organ.
  • Paul Harris Theatre is located inside the Alta Ham Fine Arts Building. It is primarily used as an acting studio but occasionally hosts performances.

However, you won't find Holbert H. Hendrix Education Auditorium inside the Carlson Education Building. Instead, it is a freestanding building located immediately east of Carlson.

Tricky Spellings & Pronunciations

Flora Dungan Humanities Building — Commit this to memory: It’s D-U-N-G-A-N with a “g” and not at all like Hines. It is named after the pioneering woman who served in the state Assembly and on what is now our Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. Give her her due. She filed more than one lawsuit to try to get fair representation for Clark County.

Foundations Building — Yes, there’s an “s” at the end of the first word. Located near the northeast corner of campus and home to the (singular) UNLV Foundation, which raises private funds for UNLV programs and scholarships.

Lilly Fong Geoscience Building — Take note that the first name of the UNLV benefactor and former regent is not spelled like the flower.

Judy Bayley Theatre — It’s Bayley, not Bailey, and note the British spelling of Theatre in this case. It's located across from Ham Concert Hall and together they anchor what is known as the UNLV Performing Arts Center.

Lied — That is pronounced “leed” and we have two of them. There is our fantastic Lied Library and also the Lied Athletic Complex.

Pida Plaza — It's pronounced PIE-duh and located immediately north of the Student Union. The meeting spot is named after the late Valerie Pida, a popular UNLV student and cheerleader. 

Outdoor Spaces

Which mall runs which way? North Mall is located on the north end of campus and runs east-west from the Lee Pascal Memorial Rose Garden to the Paul McDermott Physical Education Building. East Mall, also commonly called the "academic mall," runs north-south from the Student Union to the Rose Garden. Alumni Walk, meanwhile, passes in front of Lied Library, the Carol C. Harter Classroom Building Complex, and the Student Services Complex.

The Alumni Amphitheater is a favorite outdoor events space located on the grassy area slightly north of the Student Union.

If you want to get some luck for an exam by rubbing our mascot's mustache, the Hey Reb! statue is located in the courtyard of the Richard Tam Alumni Center.

And More

Paradise times two — Paradise Elementary School, part of the Clark County School District, is affiliated with UNLV’s College of Education and located in the northwest section of the main campus. UNLV’s Paradise Campus, home to the Division of Educational Outreach, is located just south of the main campus on the south side of Tropicana Avenue. It is called the Paradise campus because that’s where Paradise Elementary School used to be located.

The Marjorie Barrick Museum is attached to the Harry Reid Center and is the anchor for UNLV's galleries. The Baepler Xeric Garden right outside its doors offers a quiet refuge from campus.

Student Union — That’s it; just Student Union. No patron name attached. Note, however, that the Donald C. Moyer Amphitheater is located in the courtyard between the Student Union and the bookstore.

And finally, don’t confuse the similar-sounding White Hall and Wright Hall. Juanita Greer White Life Sciences Building is located on the North Mall, while John S. Wright Hall, home to departments such as history and political science, is on the East Mall, facing the Dungan Humanities Building.