The University of Essex is well known among political scientists for several reasons: its political science department is excellent, the ECPR central services are located there, and it has hosted a methods summer school for over 40 years.
Especially because of the latter, many of us have had the pleasure to marvel at the ugliness of its buildings and get lost in their labyrinths in search of a lecture room or a computer lab (one swinging door after the other), wondering what the architects were thinking. Well, Daniel Hamermesh at the Freakonomics blog has the answer:
[T]he British government imposes a value-add tax on building extensions, so that if the buildings are joined on each floor, the extension is heavily taxed. To avoid this, the University struck a deal with the taxman to allow one internal door between adjoining buildings, allowing what is merely an extension to be treated as a new edifice and to escape taxation.