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Campus Guide Captures Smith Architecture

Photographs from The Campus Guide: Smith College:

Sage Hall from Paradise Pond

President's House

Laura Scales House, Elm St.

There’s College Hall, Smith’s first building, constructed in 1875, a dramatic red-brick structure capped by a towering clock tower. There’s the columned John M. Greene Hall, inspired by Roman and Renaissance monuments.

There are buildings whose constructions predate the opening of the college, such as Sessions House, built around 1750 in classic Georgian style; and Capen and Dewey, which were built around 1825 in the popular Greek revival style.

The range of architectural achievements at Smith is captured in a new book, The Campus Guide: Smith College, a lustrous volume filled with colorful, glossy photographs of the Smith campus.

The guide, which is available through and soon at Grécourt Bookshop, is organized into five “walks” among 67 campus buildings, each illustrated and discussed architecturally and in historical college context. Walk One tours the corner of campus around College Hall, including Neilson Library, Wright and Hatfield halls, and the Brown Fine Arts Center. The walks proceed through campus, exploring the architecture of other notable buildings, such as Sage Hall, Burton Hall, the president’s house, Lyman Conservatory, Helen Hills Hills Chapel, and many others.

The guide features a foreword by President Carol T. Christ; an essay, “An Academic Landscape,” by Nina Antonetti, assistant professor of landscape studies; text written by local architectural historian Margaret Birney Vickery; and photographs by Bilyana Dimitrova, an architectural photographer and photo editor for Metropolis magazine.

“No single style or aesthetic dominates Smith’s architecture; its houses and halls are united in their diversity and eclecticism, animated by a commitment to design that is right for its time and resilient to the test of time,” writes President Christ in the book’s introduction. “The campus’s compact footprint—125 contiguous acres—affords the visitor an experience of a remarkable variety of architectural traditions on even the shortest walk.”

As noted in the book, a tour of Smith’s 100-plus buildings is like a literal review of architectural history for more than 150 years. The Campus Guide: Smith College seeks to capture the history of Smith’s aesthetic evolution in pictures and prose.

The Campus Guide: Smith College is one in a series of books that illustrate the architecture on notable American campuses, including Duke, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale universities, and Vassar College. It was published this year by Princeton Architectural Press.

3/6/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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