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
ca. 1994-present (2006)outdoor space (walkway)

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.


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Last update: November 2006