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.