A campus for the ages
The Union College campus occupies 130 acres in downtown Schenectady, N.Y., a city of 60,000 founded by the Dutch in 1661. French architect and landscape planner Joseph Ramée developed the Union College campus plan in 1813, making it the first unified campus plan in America. He designed a great central court flanked on three sides by buildings and open to the west, with a round pantheon as the focus. At the center of the grounds, on the spot originally designated by Ramée for his pantheon, now stands Union's most unusual building, the distinctive Nott Memorial. Begun in the 1850s and completed in 1875, the Nott is a beloved symbol of the College as well as a National Historic Landmark. The Union College campus is a milestone in the history of American collegiate architecture, for Joseph Ramée's 1813 master plan was the most ambitious and innovative design for an American school up to that time and became a model for later campuses.
Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts
Built in 1852, today's home for the visual arts originally housed the “natural philosophy” departments (physics and chemistry). The site of the first analytical chemistry laboratory in the nation, it remained home to the physics department for over 100 years. Renovated and rededicated as the Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts in 2016, this spacious building has studios for drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and 2D and 3D design, as well as a media lab, photography suites and dark rooms. The center also houses the Crowell and West galleries, individual studios for advanced students, and a metalworking studio alongside an outdoor sculpture space.
The former Alpha Delta Phi House was built for the fraternity between 1895 and 1898. It is the oldest surviving structure on campus originally constructed as a fraternity house and still has the Alpha Delta Phi crest on the front face of the building. Its architect, Albert W. Fuller, also designed several other buildings on campus. After the fraternity’s lease on the land expired, the building was completely renovated by the College, and it reopened in the summer of 2001 as the Grant Admissions Center.
Often still called South Colonnade, this building was constructed in 1815 following the general design for the campus laid out by Ramée. It originally contained recitation rooms and laboratories as well as faculty apartments. A gift from Walter C. Baker (class of 1915) and his wife allowed the building to be converted into a much-needed College dining hall with faculty and student lounges in 1935–1936. It was named in honor of Professor Edward Everett Hale, who had once lived in part of the building. It is currently used as a dining hall and meeting space for special events.
Integrated Science and Engineering Complex
The $100 million construction project is the most ambitious and largest in the school’s history. The reconstruction will revolutionize teaching, learning and research. The new building will connect directly to the Wold Center, Bailey Hall, Butterfield Hall and Steinmetz Hall, creating a unified and fully integrated science and engineering complex.
Begun in the 1830s by Professor Isaac Jackson of the mathematics department, Jackson's Garden comprises eight acres of formal gardens and woodlands. Sited where Ramee’s original plans called for a garden, it drew the admiration of esteemed visitors such as John James Audubon, and evolved into a sweeping retreat for both students and faculty and remains a favorite campus spot to this day.
Opened in 1967 as the Social Sciences building, today's Lippman Hall serves as one of the cornerstones of the liberal arts tradition at Union. Housing faculty offices and classrooms, the building is one of the most heavily used on campus. A lead gift in 2009 from Jim Lippman (1979) supported a major renovation.
Designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter (class of 1853), this building derived from the central rotunda in the original Ramée Plan. It served as the library until 1961 when Schaffer Library was built. The Nott Memorial was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. After many years of neglect, the building was restored to its original glory between 1993 and 1995 and today is an inspiring place to study, attend lectures and view art exhibits in the Mandeville Gallery and the Wikoff Student Gallery.
Memorial Chapel was constructed between 1924 and 1925 to serve as the central College chapel and to honor Union graduates who lost their lives serving during wartime. The names of Union alumni who died in World War I and World War II appear on its south wall, flanked by portraits of College presidents. The chapel is home to the Chamber Concert Series and Convocation, which marks the official start of the academic year.
The building now generally known as Old Chapel is located at the east end of South Colonnade / Hale House and was an element of the original campus plan by Ramée. It was built between 1855 and 1856 according to plans developed by College President Eliphalet Nott and Treasurer Jonathan Pearson (class of 1835) in consultation with Albany architect William L. Woolett. Better known as Geological Hall throughout its early years, it did indeed contain the College’s primary chapel until 1925, although the chapel was not formally laid out with its balconies and wood paneling until the 1870s.
Reamer Campus Center
Built in 1910 as the General Engineering Building with funds provided in part by Andrew Carnegie, this building was home to the Civil Engineering Department and a variety of other academic departments until the 1970s. It was designed by Albert W. Fuller, the architect of a number of other buildings on campus. After 1971 it served as a student activity center, but it was not until a major reconstruction and expansion project in 1985 that it became a true College Center with numerous dining and lounge spaces, an outdoor plaza, an auditorium, meeting rooms, and offices for student-related services and organizations.
Schaffer Library, erected in 1961, was the first building constructed at Union for the sole purpose of housing the College library. Trustee Henry Schaffer donated the majority of funds needed for its construction as well as for a later expansion between 1973 and 1974. The original building was designed by Walker O. Cain of McKim, Mead and White and built by the Hamilton Construction Company. Additional interior work supported by the Schaffer Foundation was done in the 1980s. After structural problems with the 1973–1974 addition developed, a major project to renovate and expand the library was undertaken in the late 1990s. Designed by the firm of Perry, Dean, Rogers and Partners, the renovation provided space for College Media Services, Writing Center, and a language lab.
Webster House was built between 1901 and 1903 to house the Schenectady Public Library on land purchased from the College. Its construction was financed in part by Andrew Carnegie, making it one of over 2,500 Carnegie Libraries throughout the world, including Union’s own College library at the time. General Electric also contributed funds towards its construction. Union repurchased the building and land in 1970 after the public library moved to a larger facility in the city. For several years the space was used for student and other organizations. It was renovated into a dormitory in 1973 and named for College President Harrison Webster (class of 1868 and President 1884–1894).
Completed in 2011, the Peter Irving Wold Center houses the Phasor Lab for electrical engineering and music research, which has a recording studio equipped with a Steinway. The Collaborative Design Studio provides opportunities for prototyping design, 3D printing and digital fabrication. The Castrucci Gallery explores intersections between arts, math and science.