A Bold Plan for Student Life
A residential testing ground
Residential College #1, soon named Cowell College, became the testing ground for what a college would look like. While initial sketches of the academic and dining buildings were viewed positively, plans for the dormitories were highly criticized. The committee disliked the scattered feel and lack of enclosed spaces laid out in an initial rendering. Rather than the initial plan for buildings scattered throughout the trees, the Campus Planning Committee ultimately supported the idea of a "consolidated village idea within the forest." (From Clark Kerr, Oral History)
Academics and architecture
Once the quad plan of College #1, or Cowell College, was established—academic and administrative facilities and dining area around a “Commons Court” and dormitories arranged in two residential quadrangles (originally gender-specific)—the scheme was quickly followed in the next three colleges with adjustments for topography.
At Stevenson, the second college, the dormitory-house arrangement was aligned along the treefilled ridge of the ravine to the east, its original grid plan adjusted to save trees. At Crown, the third, the steeper topography resulted in more vertical elements and bridges connecting levels. The quad plan was at first designed for Merrill College (the fourth) as well, but the blocky, multistory buildings were eventually broken up, and the dormitories were stretched along the downhill slope, creatively using the levels of the landscape.
One of the early…principles…was to collaborate, to work together, to make an exploration that would allow the students to grow differently…it was something I felt was right for here. I couldn’t have done that someplace else. It was a spirit here…
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