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This large green quadrangle forms the core of the Middlebury College campus and is typified by a sloping terrain falling from a western ridge (Chapel Row) to the backside of the original Old Stone Row on the east. Its rectangular form is defined by these two rows and by spaciously set lateral buildings--most in gray marble and stone and all in a Georgian-related aesthetic. Its major focal features are the spire of Mead Memorial Chapel and the cupola of Old Chapel. Its axes are determined by the east-west, tree-lined Chapel Walk and the north-south visual linkage from McCullough Student Center to Le Chateau on the north campus. Upon visiting this most-unified City Beautiful space in the state of Vermont, architect Robert Venturi commented that "you have what everyone thinks an American campus ought to look like, only they almost never do." The only incursion into its formal unity is the Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer addition of picturesque polygonal towers at the ends of McCullough Hall, inspired by Le Chateau and dating from its 1988-1989 conversion into a student center.
The Main Quadrangle marked the expansion of the campus beyond the limits of its original row overlooking the village. By duplicating the Old Stone Row trio of buildings on a grander scale and on the higher ridge to the west, then developing the space in between, the college gained a new internal focus. At the same time it abandoned the antique classicism of its centennial buildings in favor of the Georgian Revival. The new dormitories (Hepburn and Gifford Halls) took on the massing and cupolas similar to those at the College of William and Mary or, more regionally, the recently rebuilt Dartmouth Hall in Hanover. Along with Mead Chapel, built in the form of a New England meeting house rather than in Allen and Collens more signature Gothic style, Hepburn and Gifford Halls demonstrate the concern of builder-president John Thomas to establish an appropriate regional identity for the growing college. This quadrangle established both the pattern of formally arranged buildings set in a spacious rolling landscape and the Georgian aesthetic that would dominate campus development for the remainder of the century.
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