The 1, 2 Step



Everyday students jog down Limestone or run on the elliptical at the Johnson Center. It’s safe to say UK has some of the best and strongest athletes around.

But even the most athletic and in-shape students complain about the nature of one of campus’ oldest traditions … the steps beside Buell Armory.

Those steps have many names with students: “those long steps,” “those awkward steps,” “those weird steps.”

Sit under the trees parallel to the steps, and it won’t take long to hear a ton of complaining. Some people have even adopted a pattern to better navigate them.

“My friends and I notice that it takes three normal sized steps (per step),” UK sophomore Brandon Magner said. “It’s really weird.”

Students say that filing up the stairs can be a daunting task, and a workout within itself. Many avoid the steps all together, like UK junior Maddie Kincaid.

“It doesn’t feel right (when you’re walking),” she said. “I wonder why they made them like that in the first place.”

The history of the steps is somewhat a mystery to most, including UK architect Warren Denny. Denny said the steps could have been made when the Buell Armory was constructed and would have been a pathway to get to Barker Hall on the corner of Administration Drive and Patterson Drive.

Barker Hall was completed in 1901 with the adjoining Buell Armory, and was expanded in 1937. If the steps were made when these buildings were first built, the steps themselves would be more than 100 years old.

The historical likeness of the steps may be a reason UK has not done anything to change the inconvenient treads.

“Over time, there have been some discussion over doing something aggressive,” Denny said. “But there has been no real serious consideration to building (new steps). There has been no opportunity.”

Denny said UK architecture had never heard of any “functional problems” toward the stairwell.

“I don’t recall them saying anything to me dealing with safety,” he said.

Even former students from decades ago remember the steps as an unpleasant affliction.

Student Center director John Herbst said previous students called the steps the “Sam Bowie” stairs, named after Samuel Bowie who played basketball at UK from 1979 to 1984.

This was because he was the only person who could “navigate the steps,” Herbst said. The basketball center was 7’1”.

Some sprucing up might be the only idea on UK’s agenda for the stairwell.

“Maybe a new handrail, or some new lights,” Denny said.

Even if the only people that can comfortably scale them are over 7 feet tall, UK does not seem like it will change “those darn steps” anytime soon.