Collegiate Gothic façades and manicured quadrangles may suggest otherwise, but change is always afoot in the halls of academe. Political pressures, technological advances, shifts in the economy, and relationships with surrounding communities create an array of constantly moving targets at which higher education administrators take aim. The strategic goals of institutions have a direct impact on facilities planning and design—a responsibility that falls squarely in the lap of the university architect.
In researching these profiles of four leading campus architects, ARCHITECT discovered common ground shared by many universities. Without question, sustainability is a key area of focus for institutions that pride themselves on being intellectual and social leaders, to the degree that many have appointed the equivalent of sustainability czars.
Likewise, recruiting highly qualified students and faculty remains an important factor in deciding what to build and when. Public and private institutions alike struggle with the legacy of substandard, unloved midcentury modern facilities (Princeton, for example, is leveling its 1960s-era Butler College, long known by students as “the Butt”). And as grant money becomes an increasingly vital source of revenue, huge investments of capital are being channeled into new research facilities for science, technology, and medicine.
Yet despite such similarities, every campus is unique, and so too is the job of every campus architect. The four architects profiled here have earned the respect of their peers for bringing energy, talent, and foresight to bear on the future of their institutions.
Portraits by David Eustace