Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Master plan

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Institution Name: Elmhurst College
Original/Historic Place Name: Elmhurst College Showing Scheme for Development
Location on Campus: 190 Prospect Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1926original construction Olson, Benjamin Franklin
Designer: Benjamin Franklin Olson
Type of Place: Campus arrangement
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. 1926-present (2006)master plan (landscape)

In 1926, Chicago architect Benjamin Franklin Olson completed the Elmhurst College master plan, which is still in evidence and being followed over 75 years later. His holistic architectural plan featured traditional red-brick buildings outlining a grass quadrangle and brought the East Coast style of Ivy League campus to the Midwest. This well-prepared and presented plan has separated Elmhurst College architecturally from similar institutions in the Midwest. When you walk through the present-day front gates of Elmhurst, Olson's vision can easily be found, hardly changed from his original design.

The plan called for a quadrangle, or Mall as it is commonly called, set in the middle campus with key buildings to anchor it. Surrounding the Mall would be a library, a gymnasium, a worship chapel, academic classroom buildings, and residence halls. It took Elmhurst College over 30 years to realize Olson's original plan, which was accomplished with the completion of Hammerschmidt Chapel in 1957. While the functions of these buildings have changed over the years to allow for campus development, the architectural qualities and external features of all the buildings have been preserved. The result is an aesthetically pleasing campus with a consistent architectural style woven throughout its buildings. Buildings that have been added in recent years also feature the traditional red-brick design, and that style has become the hallmark of Elmhurst College buildings.


Campus Master Plan. [n.d.] Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL.

Cutright, Melitta J. An Ever-Widening Circle: The Elmhurst College Years. Elmhurst, IL: Elmhurst College Press, 1995.


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Last update: November 2006