Christensen Hall – University of New Hampshire // 1970

Christensen Hall at the University of New Hampshire in Durham is a rare example of the much-maligned Brutalist style of architecture in the state. In the late 1960s, the university needed more housing and a dining hall for new students of the growing campus, but a very low budget to accomplish this. They hired Ulrich Franzen, a German-born architect (featured on here previously) who attended school at Harvard, learning Modernist principles there that would shape his career. The boxy buildings feature deep recessions to provide each student an identifiable corner and windows. The concrete frame building and engineering provide breezeways and forms that conventional buildings would not be able to accomplish. The building was completed in 1970 and was immediately applauded by architects and was featured numerous architectural publications.

Harvard Medical School – Vanderbilt Hall // 1928

When Harvard Medical School opened its doors in 1906 at its new Longwood campus in Boston, students were forced to live in private dormitories or travel long distances to the sparsely developed neighborhood near the Fens. Hospitals at the time had private dormitories for nurses and other employees, but Harvard did not fill this need until 1928 when Vanderbilt Hall opened. The building is Renaissance Revival in style, which mimics the style of the Boston Lying-In Hospital which was built in 1922 across from Vanderbilt, and the famous Gardner Museum. Vanderbilt Hall is unique in the neighborhood as a dormitory, recreation, and athletic center built to house 250 students of the Medical School. As part of its funding campaign, subscriptions from 1,519 doctors and 618 “non-medical friends” were obtained, along with a gift of $100,000 from New York Central Railroad President Harold S. Vanderbilt, for whom the building was named. The stunning building has a curved concave corner which mimics the Boston Lying-In Hospital and elegantly frames the small circular park in the street.

Wellesley College- Tower Court // 1915

Tower Court, a U-shaped dormitory at Wellesley College, was built in 1915 on College Hall Hill, at the former location of College Hall which burned down a year prior. At the time, an anonymous donor required that any design for a dormitory complex here had to be planned before the first building could be constructed and the buildings were to be built of fire-proof construction. She also preferred the Gothic Style of architecture and requested it be designed in the style. Once these condition s were met, Ellen Stebbins James of New York, who had no connection to the college, donated $500,000 for the construction of Tower Court. Architects Coolidge and Carlson were also requested by the donor and selected by the College.

ca. 1916 photo of completed Tower Court dormitory. Courtesy of Wellesley College digital archives.
1973 aerial of Tower Court, courtesy of Wellesley College digital collections.

Following the fire in 1914 and the advice of a Faculty Committee, a
supervising architect had been appointed to review all plans of future
buildings. Frank Miles Day of Day and Klauder was the supervising
architect for one year, until 1916. At that time his firm became the
executive architects for the Academic Buildings on Norumbega Hill and
Ralph Adams Cram, a titan in Gothic Revival architecture became supervising architect, reviewing the plans for dormitories on College Hall Hill.

The contractor, J . W. Bishop and Company, was instructed to use
remnant building materials of College Hall whenever possible. Many of the
red bricks were reused as were granite stepping stones and foundation
stones, including the cornerstone. The convergence of the old and new was important to the symbolism of the planners.

The Great Hall in Tower Court ca. 1920. Courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.