Planning for Higher Education Journal

Restoring the Values of Campus Architecture

Journal Cover
From Volume 20 Number 1 | Fall 1991
By Werner Sensbach

Over the past 40 years, the construction of many college and univeristy buildings have disrupted the aesthetic tradtiion and history of campus design. Institutions of higher learning must become better guardians of, as Thomas Jefferson said, "academical villages." Attractive campus architecture needs administrators, faculty, and alumni to monitor professional architects. Newer buildings must blend with their historical neighbors and integrate within the campus fabric. Universities must maintain three important elements to restore control of campus design: (1) a renewed sense of campus architecture's purpose, (2) a devotion to human scale, and (3) a sense of campus aesthetics. Additionally, three guidelines can preserve the values of the university campus: (1) recognition that the village-like atmosphere is an American creation, (2) guarding the campus environment as carefully as the faculty, and (3) a set of design guidelines. Examples of design guidelines include the fact that new buildings should be subordinate to surrounding space, a hierarchy of buildings based on size, discouragement of "signature" buildings, and the visual sensations of faculty and students that are a measure of design satisfaction. Colleges and universities must monitor and protect the beauty of campus architecture. To ignore its aesthetic value is to neglect the tradition and purpose of the "academic village."

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