Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Van Wylen Library

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Institution Name: Hope College
Original/Historic Place Name: Gordon J. and Margaret D. Van Wylen Library
Location on Campus: 53 Graves Pl.
Date(s) of Construction:
1988original construction Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott
Designer: Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott (Boston)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Postmodern (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: poured cement
Walls: block with brick fascia
Roof: asphalt on slope; EPDM on flat
1988-present (2006)library

Van Wylen Library, designed by the prominent Boston architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, was dedicated in 1988. The building was named for Dr. Gordon J. and Dr. Margaret D. Van Wylen. Gordon Van Wylen was president of the college from 1972 to 1987 and was responsible for much of the creative growth of the college's campus, including the closing of 12th Street in the center of campus.

Contributions to the college's scholarly and cultural growth have increased considerably since the completion of the library. The library holds a notable position in contemporary architecture that might be termed postmodern. This is due to the historical references to adaptations of a Dutch/Netherlandish Renaissance Revival, as seen in the earlier revival style of Voorhees Hall across the street.


Bruins, Elton J., and Larry J. Wagenaar. Campus Alive: A Walking Tour of Hope College. Holland, MI: Hope College, 1999.

Stegenga, Preston J. Anchor of Hope: The History of an American Denominational Institution, Hope College. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1954.

Wichers, Wynand. A Century of Hope: 1866-1966. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1966.


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Last update: November 2006