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Robert Kondo, who served as sets art director for the film, says the team started where Monsters University started some 700 years ago: the School of Scaring. "It was one of the earliest things we designed, because it is the central point of the college."

Artists pulled reference from a host of Ivy League schools -- capturing the European flavor they found there, as well as the sculptured stonework -- which, says Kondo, lent itself to the monster world quite well. "It was really beautiful. The sculptural aspects were perfect for monsterizing -- we could get faces in there."

Kondo was particularly impressed with a building at Harvard that featured massive bricks with lots of texture. "The overall scale of the building felt so massive. It felt like a great touchstone for us, along with a lot of Russian architecture, because of the attention to the mass of things. It's that heft that really gave us the feeling of the monster world."

As the focal point of the whole university -- and theoretically the oldest building on campus, the School of Scaring needed to stand out. "We really wanted some iconic feature to stress the visual importance of the building," says Kondo. "So we introduced a dome and arch. And one of the great things about the school are the front doors, which are big, dark, heavy metal doors -- but there are small doors within the bigger doors, alluding to the fact that there are big monsters and small monsters -- and maybe long ago when the building was built, there were enormous monsters -- suddenly our world got bigger."

Artists were able to subtly incorporate monster faces into many of the buildings, including the School of Scaring, creating eyes out of two big windows and a mouth from the front doors.

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