Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Campus plan

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Institution Name: Union College (NY)
Original/Historic Place Name: Campus Plan
Location on Campus: 807 Union St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1813original plan Ramée, Joseph-Jacques
Designer: Joseph-Jacques Ramée
Type of Place: Campus arrangement
Style: (Glossary)
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1813-present (2006)master plan (campus)

The French born, peripatetic architect Joseph-Jacques Ramée arrived at Union College serendipitously as he was returning to Philadelphia from a trip through upstate New York in January 1813. There he met Eliphalet Nott, who commissioned him to design the campus of Union College. Ramée worked on the Union College plans for two years and oversaw the early construction of North and South Colleges. Ramée's plans for the campus were fully realized in 1967 with the completion of the humanities and social sciences buildings. Although the College has remained faithful to the salient elements of Ramée's master plan, the original thirty drawings were misplaced and not discovered until 1932. They are now safely located in the Schaffer Library Special Collections.

"Much of the character of a college is expressed in its physical form its buildings, open spaces and landscaping. Most American campuses have grown more-or-less haphazardly; only a few reveal a strong vision of planning that has shaped the entire school over time. One of these, the Union College campus, is a milestone in the history of American collegiate architecture, for Joseph Ramée's 1813 master plan of Union was the most ambitious and innovative design for an American school up to that time and became a model for later campuses. The crucial elements of the plan created by Joseph-Jacques Ramée and Eliphalet Nott integrated buildings defining a great courtyard, centering on a domed rotunda and looking west across the College Pasture have served for 190 years as the visible symbol of the College's bold ambitions and ideals." (Paul Turner)


Bush-Brown, Albert. "Image of a University: A Study of Architecture as an Expression of Education at Colleges and Universities in the United States between 1800 and 1900." Ph. D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1958.

Chapman, M. Perry. American Places: In Search of the Twenty-First Century Campus. Westport, CN: Praeger, 2006.

Dober, Richard P. "An Endowment of Styles: A Retrospective Survey of Campus Design." Landscape Architecture 79 (December 1989): 44-45.

Dober, Richard P. Campus Landscape: Functions, Forms, Features. New York: Wiley, 2000.

Dober, Richard P. Campus Planning. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corp., 1963. Reprint, Ann Arbor, MI: Society for College and University Planning, 1996.

Dober, Richard P. "An Endowment of Styles: A Retrospective Survey of Campus Design." Landscape Architecture 79 (December 1989): 44-45.

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

Hamlin, Talbot. Greek Revival Architecture in America. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1944.

Hislop, Codman. Eliphalet Nott. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1971.

Hislop, Codman. "The Ramee Plans." Union Alumni Monthly 22 (December 1932): 48-53.

Hislop, Codman, and Harold A. Larrabee. "Joseph-Jacques Ramee and the Building of North and South Colleges." Union Alumni Monthly 27 (February 1938): 110-27.

Klauder, Charles Z., and Herbert C. Wise. College Architecture in America and Its Part in the Development of the Campus. New York; London: C. Scribner's Sons, 1929.

Larrabee, Harold A. Joseph-Jacques Ramée and America's First Unified College Plan. Franco-American Pamphlet Series, no. 1. New York: American Society of the French Legion of Honor, 1934.

Raymond, Andrew Van Vranken. Union University: Its History, Influence, Characteristics and Equipment: With the Lives and Works of Its Founders, Benefactors, Officers, Regents, Faculty, and the Achievements of Its Alumni. New York: Lewis Publishing Company, 1907.

Schuyler, David. "Frederick Law Olmsted and the Origins of Modern Campus Design," Planning for Higher Education 25, no. 2, (1996-1997): 1-10.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.


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Last update: November 2006