Union marks anniversary of architect’s innovative campus design

Publication Date

Bill Buell - The Sunday Gazette

This year is the 200th anniversary of a milestone in the history of the American campus: the planning of the buildings and grounds of Union College by the French architect Joseph Ramée. Ramée's design was the first comprehensive plan for an American college or university, integrating buildings, open spaces, and surrounding parkland in ways that have shaped American campus planning ever since.

To mark the bicentennial of Ramée's plan and its influence on campus design, Union is hosting “The Grand Design: Joseph Ramée’s Drawings for the Union College Campus,” an exhibit featuring some of Ramée's original drawings, which were discovered in an attic here in 1932. The exhibit runs through May 26.

Thomas Jefferson's vision of an academic village that rose to become the University of Virginia may grab all the architectural acclaim, but it was the little-known Ramée whose plans likely influenced Jefferson's and Frederick Law Olmsted's for Stanford University, among others.