Icing on the cake

Finished at last — both the visionary long-term Stetson-Sawyer project of Williams College, and this personal online account of its history and progress.

Without an aerial view, this is as close as I could come to the angle in the architects’ conception in the header of this blog, to show the final realization of the whole project.


I’m back to complete the story with the icing on the cake, the landscaping of the library quad:img_3715

For the backstory of the library quad project, I refer you to two essays by current students, found here and here.  Of particular note is the project page of landscape architects Stephen Stimson Associates.  Here is a time-lapse video of the quad’s construction.  My own essay is primarily pictorial, the record of a pleasant early October afternoon.

We start with reverse-angle views, from the balcony of Paresky Student Center and back from the arcade of Stetson Hall, which place the quad into the Purple Valley landscape that it opens up.



Here we enter into the new landscape of massive tumbled blocks of erratic marble – from the world’s largest underground quarry in Danby, Vermont – with Chapin Hall and Bernhard Music Center in the background:


To continue the visual tour, click through:


Here is the bio-swale in front of Hollander Hall, a key component of the project’s bid for LEED certification in sustainability:


Here are the passages through the configurations of marble, which the designers refer to as “the ledges”:



Note the angularity, eccentricity, and diversity of the constructed landscape:


Here are the different textures, rough-hewn and scored as well as polished, that the marble offers:



And here is your invitation to walk through:


We end where we began, with facade of Stetson Hall, now framed so beautifully in the built and natural landscape:



It’s taken nearly a hundred years, but Stetson Hall (as my favorite campus building, its revival sparked my initial interest in this project) finally has the setting and function that it deserves, as the mediator between a marvelous open space and an equally marvelous and impeccably modern Sawyer Library.  Job well done, Williams – Eph can take pride in his libraries.




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