Thursday, April 18, 2013

Timeless Design: Walking through the Quads of History

I love to focus on what is new and upcoming for my clients, but at the same time, respecting the past is key to understanding good design.  Since I started on the Van Cortlandt restoration and design, I have been drawn to architecture of the past.  When thinking about these earlier eras, I immediately gravitate towards some of the wonderful collegiate campuses of the East Coast and the magnificent architecture of their original buildings.  What amazes me most about these structures is the beauty and design that has stood the test of time.  It inspires me to create designs that are timeless.

Two of those colleges are right on Staten Island.  Wagner College dates back to 1883 at its conception in upstate New York but then moved to its current location on Grymes Hill of Staten Island in 1918, taking over a 38-acre property of a shipping mogul overlooking the harbor.

St. John's also has a historic campus on Staten Island, and not far from Wagner.  St. John's did not establish its college on Staten Island until the 1960s, however, the property purchased for the school dates back to 1915.  The property was another shipping mogul's estate and also on Grymes Hill.

Not far from Staten Island and one of my favorite places in New Jersey to visit is Princeton, home of Princeton University.  Whenever I think of idyllic architecture of American history, Princeton comes to mind. While it's buildings were constructed even before the 1800s, the same inspiration comes from walking their halls.  The awe of how classic beauty lasts generation after generation.

Further south on our journey we come to one of my favorite places in the country - The College of William & Mary.  I think what strikes me the most is the rich history surrounding it.  Built in 1695, the Wren Building (then called only the College Building), was the first of its kind and is the oldest college campus building in the country.  What amazes me is that this building has burned down three times since its original construction and has always been built up within the original frame of the building.  Quite an inspiring story of restoration.

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