Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Fisher Passage

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Institution Name: Vassar College
Original/Historic Place Name: Emily Hargroves Fisher and Richard Fisher Passage
Location on Campus: behind Main Building
Date(s) of Construction:
1994original construction Roth & Moore
Designer: Roth & Moore
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Function:
ca. 1994-present (2006)outdoor space (walkway)
 

Narrative:
The Fisher Passage is the most striking change in the newly renovated backyard behind Main Building. During the 1990's a number of former service buildings were restored for adaptive reuse and have gradually been incorporated into an area of student activity. On October 28, 1994 the Fisher Passage, designed by architects Roth and Moore, was dedicated. The terraced sidewalk/passage leading from Main Building to the Casper's Kill unites the buildings.

Walking down the steps and paths of the esplanade, one enjoys the beauty of the landscaped passage as it provides access to each of the buildings. The former laundry has become the Development Office and computer classrooms; the former power house for producing electricity is now the Powerhouse Theater with a terrace; the former receiving department and workshops are now the Computer Center; former coal bins have been converted to a black-box theater; a storage garage has become an intercultural center; a workshop has been converted to an applied art center; a maids' clubhouse is now the Admissions Office. At the midpoint between the Development Office and the Computer Center there is an armillary, with a working sundial and figures from the zodiac. Diana Balmori, also creator of the Sculpture Garden in the Loeb Center, landscaped the walkway with Yoshima cherry trees and planted wisteria to engulf the elevated loading bridge that crosses above the walkway. As the path emerges onto the terraced and landscaped banks of the kill, evidence is everywhere that change and rebirth have taken place and that the recycling of old and rundown buildings has produced a burst of aesthetic delight. To cap it all, the Casper's Kill has been cleaned up and native plants restored.
 

References:

Collens, Charles. "Vassar College." Architectural Review 123, no. 2411 (January 17, 1923).

Daniels, Elizabeth A. Main to Mudd and More. Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College, 1996.

Daniels, Elizabeth A. Bridges to the World: Henry Noble MacCracken and Vassar College. Clinton Corners, NY: College Avenue Press, 1994.

Gaines, Thomas A. The Campus as a Work of Art. New York: Praeger, 1991.

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Lewis, Dio. The New Gymnastics. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1862.

Linner, Edward R. Vassar: The Remarkable Growth of a Man and His College. Elizabeth A. Daniels, ed. Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College, 1984.

Lloyd, Harriet Raymond. Life and Letters of John Howard Raymond. New York: Fords, Howard and Hulbert, 1881.

Lossing, Benson J. Historical Sketch of Vassar College. New York: S. W. Green 1876.

Lossing, Benson J.. Vassar College and Its Founder. New York: C. A. Alvord, 1867.

MacCracken, Henry Noble. The Hickory Limb. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1950.

Miscellany News. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Plum, Dorothy A., and George B. Dowell. The Great Experiment, A Chronicle of Vassar. Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College, 1961.

Schuyler, Montgomery. "The Architecture of American Colleges: X. Three Women's Colleges: Vassar, Wellesley & Smith." Architectural Record 31 (May 1912).

Swan, Frances W. et al., eds. Communications to the Board of Trustees of Vassar College by Its Founder. New York: Vassar College, 1886.

Van Lengen, Karen, and Lisa Reilly. Vassar College: An Architectural Tour. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.

Vassar Quarterly. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassar Views, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassarion. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

 

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Last update: November 2006