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.
Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, a tragic day that will never be forgotten. 2,977 innocent civilians perished that day, and tens of thousands more lost close family members, friends, mentors, and co-workers. Robert LeBlanc (1930-2001), was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, and was always fascinated with learning about and visiting foreign places. After graduating from high school in 1949, Bob enlisted in the Air Force, which offered him a ticket to adventure and see places all over the globe. Bob left the Air Force in 1953 and entered the University of New Hampshire in the fall of that year. He graduated with a degree in History, later graduating with a Master’s degree in Geography. He accepted a professorship at UNH and helped shape the minds of thousands in his 36 year tenure at the University. He perished on 9/11, aboard Flight 175, headed to a geography conference in California, but his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of his students, and a memorial bench outside Murkland Hall, where he spent much of his time.
Named for Charles Sumner Murkland (1856-1926), the first president of New Hampshire College (later UNH) after its establishment in Durham, Murkland Hall was designed by Professor Eric T. Huddleston in 1927. Huddleston’s design for a liberal arts building suitable of Murkland’s name, features a Colonial Revival building set into the hill with classical detailing.
One of the most recognizable buildings (largely due to height) on the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham is Stoke Hall, a large dormitory on the outskirts of campus. The building was designed by Leo Provost, a New Hampshire-based architect, who actually graduated from UNH in 1936. Stoke Hall is named for Dr. Harold Walter Stoke, President of the University of New Hampshire from 1944-1947 during an enrollment surge that more than tripled enrollment and the beginning of a massive building program that continued for decades. The surge began with the conclusion of WWII, and the increase in young men going to college thanks to the GI Bill. Mr. Stoke got around as a President, as after three years at New Hampshire, he became President of Louisiana State University (LSU) until 1951. He later served as President at Queens College, New York, for six years. The Y-shaped building was constructed in two phases, the two wings facing the street were built in 1965, with the rear wing added the summer later. The design blends mid-20th century styles from New Formalism to Mid-Century Modern in a graceful way, especially for a college dormitory, though, I cannot speak for the interiors.
The centerpiece of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) campus in Durham, is Thompson Hall, a stunning example of Romanesque Revival architecture. Thompson Hall was the first building to be built on the new campus of the New Hampshire College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts, which had been founded in 1866 as a land grant college and was previously located near Dartmouth in Hanover. Benjamin Thompson, a Durham farmer, died 1890, leaving an estate worth $400,000, with 253 acres (102 ha) of land, to the state for use as an agricultural school. The state accepted his gift, and construction of Thompson Hall began in 1891, with a landscape plan for the campus developed by the great Charles Eliot. The bold Romanesque building was designed by Concord, NH architects Dow & Randlett, who were among the most prestigious architectural firms in the state at the end of the 19th century. The building remains as a significant piece of UNH’s ever-growing campus.