...but comparing a bank (a building that in 1891 had to LOOK expensive) and student flats (a building that has to BE cheap) results in the rather underwhelming discovery that because they had wildly different budgets with completely different aesthetic aims, they ended up with different built qualities. Shocking, isn't it?
If they want to make an apples-for-apples comparison, the author should come to the UK and compare our 1890 semi-detached with any post-70s new-build. There are certainly ecological issues with the older building (that are expensive to retrofit past) but the quality of building and workmanship is drastically better in the older houses.
And [at least in the UK] this isn't a case of crappy houses made of sticks falling down. With the rarest of exceptions, there is no "survivorship bias".
And that aesthetics should override competent construction technique is a bad idea, is also a fair criticism.
The real reason it looks so poor is —as I did say before— their respective aesthetic aims. Dartmouth wanted something that looked New Englandy that holds dozens of students, while the bank wanted something that makes them look like they have all the money.
A lot of UK housing built circa 1900 - 1930 was not well built at all; Building regulations as such hardly existed and there was a lot of trial and error. Buildings did indeed fall down.
I didn't mean to imply that no 1900 houses have fallen down, just to say that the incredibly vast majority of them are still around today.
Look at any city and you will see rows upon rows of ~1900s terraces. Still mostly upright. These typically only fall down when you let the roof go.
This is in contrast to North America that at the same time was building their houses out of timber. Not only does the material need better maintenance, but the difference between tearing it down and building a new one and refitting is much less than with a double-layer brick build. People want to tear them down and build something better.