Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Armstrong Quadrangle

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Institution Name: Colorado College
Original/Historic Place Name: Quadrangle
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1878original construction Cameron, Robert A.
Designer: Robert A. Cameron
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. 1878-present (2006)outdoor space

The Colorado College main quadrangle, now known as Armstrong Quad, is anchored by Cutler Hall (1878) on the west and--approximately one and one half city blocks away--by Shove Memorial Chapel on the east. Palmer Hall (1903) occupies a key site on the quad's northern boundary. Two newer buildings from the early 1960s--Tutt Library and Armstrong Hall--and a student center from 1988 complete the enclosure. One could argue that the Shove/Cutler, east-west axis ends in fact with Pikes Peak, about twenty miles to the west, because the has a major presence on campus.

The quadrangle's axial development was part of the initial campus plan from the late 1870s and relates to General William Jackson Palmer's formal concepts for the design of Colorado Springs. Palmer was the founder of the city and a major benefactor of Colorado College in its early days. He donated twenty acres north of downtown as a "college reservation" because he believed a college was a necessary feature of an affluent, cosmopolitan community. He sought to emulate design models from the East coast and Europe, which he believed to be the standard.

After 125 years the quadrangle retains its essential form, although modern intrusions and haphazard landscaping have compromised its original simplicity and purity. An extension to Tutt Library penetrates the quadrangle on its northern edge. Similarly, the original Cutler Hall driveway crescent has been shortened to accommodate a student center built in 1988. Fortunately, the gravel paths of the early campus are largely extant. On the other hand, post-World War II construction (Tutt Library, Armstrong Hall, Worner Center) includes concrete walkways and building aprons totally at odds with the more rustic, pastoral gravel walks. Recapturing the quadrangle's original design will be a major challenge for the college.


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