So how about the greater campus design. My favorite, hands down, is Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village. For you non-wahoos, that’s the University of Virginia’s Lawn. You won’t make it through an American Architecture survey course without seeing at least a diagrammatic slide. In the spirit of FULL DISCLOSURE I admit I’m biased, as I loved the place so much I wound up staying for 11 years. TJ experimented with classic architecture, proportions, and engineering, designed according to strong ideas about social relations between teachers and students, made sure to emphasize the importance of the gardens, and gave careful consideration to the relationship between the University and the landscape. Out of all of his accomplishments, “the father of the University of Virginia” is one of only three listed on his headstone.
Architecture at the University has had some highs and lows. I’d say the burning of the Rotunda in 1895 was a blessing in disguise, as it got rid of the horrible addition on the back, and the University received an amazing design by Standford White.
Later, in spite of the bureaucracy of a state University, including the politics of a Board of Visitors, raising funds (i.e. keeping donors happy and generous) for new buildings and preservation issues, UVa has actually managed to put up a few new buildings that are brilliant and blend in well. My personal favorite is the relatively new English building, Bryan Hall, designed by Michael Graves.
It slipped in behind the amphitheater and created a perfect solution to overcrowded walkways. The palette and attention to proportions pays respect to the architectural history surrounding it, yet brings it up to date. Finally, it took a made the most of some very tricky topography.
Alright, I’ll stop yammering now. What are some of your favorite campus designs? Olmsted at Stanford? The campus redesign by Hargreaves at The University of Cincinnati? The built-to-look-aged-quickly Gothic of Duke (OK, I’m not sure that’s a fact, but whatever)? The Square that has emerged around Harvard? The amphitheater at Swarthmore? Perhaps an urban campus that works well?