The State University of New York Purchase Ny Usa a university campus 1967 to the present

Purchase College is one of SUNY's 64 tertiary educational institutions. It is located 30 miles (50 kilometres) from New York City near White Plains and New Rochelle on what was a 500-acre (200-hectare) farm. The college has a general education programme but it is best known for its conservatory programmes in theatre arts, film-making and music, and the visual arts. The first students were admitted in 1968 into the Continuing Education Program; juniors were admitted in 1971, and the first freshmen in 1973. The development of the campus has gone in fits and starts; enrolments have fluctuated and so has its funding.

Purchase is a product of the expansionist education policies in New York State under the leadership of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. While SUNY Albany was a total urban design, SUNY Purchase is an all-of-a-piece one with a strong basic infrastructure as a point of departure. Like SUNY Albany, its central idea is that of an internationally renowned architect. In this case it was Edward Larabee Barnes. He was appointed to be the master architect, but other equally well-regarded architects designed many of the individual buildings following specified guidelines. Barnes, himself, designed a number of the buildings as well. The capital cost to the state was $US87 million but additional funds were obtained from private donors such as Roy A. Neuberger whose art collection forms the backbone of the Museum ofArt at the university (Figure 8.62).

Barnes' master plan placed the main buildings along a 900-foot (274-metre) court. The central buildings are on a raised platform that crosses a road, Lincoln Drive.

Figure 8.62 A bird's eye view of the massing of the SUNY at Purchase.

Terminating the axis at one end is a gymnasium and at the other is the Performing Arts Center (see Figure 8.63). In between are a rectangular meadow, the Great Court and the library. Perpendicular to the platform and at regular intervals are 30-foot (9-metre) wide pedestrian streets. Between them are the academic buildings. The buildings are partially connected by 'colonnades' lined by trees. Thus in the plan their sites were defined by the circulation network provided by the colonnades that some critics find akin to those of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia.

The design guidelines allowed each building to be designed as an individual commission. They had, however, to front the colonnades for the distance between streets (i.e. 130 feet; 40 metres). The main design control was in limiting the exteriors of the buildings to three materials and colours: grey-brown brick, grey-tinted glass and dark grey anodized aluminium. The last was, at that time, the material of modernity.

The architects were given complete freedom to create any geometric form they desired providing the programmatic requirements were met. The overall result is that the site has the rigidity of Mies van der Rohe's Illinois Institute of Technology but not its rigidity of building forms.

The major building on the campus is the Performing Arts Center designed by Barnes. It has a cluster of four theatres with fly towers rising above the campus. They are a Concert Hall (seating capacity of 1372), the PepsiCo Theater (seating capacity of 713; designed by Ming Cho Lee), the Recital Hall (seating capacity of 680), the Abbott Kaplan Theater (seating capacity of 500) and the Organ Room (seating capacity of 225). The complex hosts about 600 performances a year attracting 125,000 visitors. The list of architects who designed the other buildings is impressive. The Humanities and Social Sciences Building (1974) was designed by Robert Venturi of Venturi and Rauch. Paul Rudolph designed

Figure 8.63 Two views of the Purchase campus. (a) The colonnade and (b) a view of the deck with the Performing Arts Center on the right.

the Natural Sciences Building, Gawthmey, Henderson and Siegel the dormitory, Gunnar Bierkerts the School of Dancing building (1977) and Philip Johnson and

John Burgee the Neuberger Museum of Art (1971). Despite this diversity of design talent, the campus has a remarkably severe character! In addition, the cheap materials

Figure 8.64 The architecture of the Purchase campus. (a) The Natural Sciences Building and (b) the Social Sciences Building, both seen from one of the colonnades.

Figure 8.64 The architecture of the Purchase campus. (a) The Natural Sciences Building and (b) the Social Sciences Building, both seen from one of the colonnades.

chosen because of the desire to reduce upfront costs have proven to be a burden on operating expenses (Figure 8.64).

Whether or not universities should be located on greenfield sites poorly related to an urban area is another question. They are certainly easier to build and it is certainly easier to provide parking for cars in such locations than on an urban site. They can be designed to be spacious and SUNY Purchase certainly is. It also provides outstanding educational programmes but it can be a dull place to be. It stands aloof from its immediate surroundings. Is that a worthwhile educational objective?

In 1998, a second master plan was developed. It reflected changes that had taken place since the first one was produced 30 years earlier. Kevin Horn and Andrew Goldman, architects, designed it. This plan was drawn up through much greater consultation with department heads and teaching staff than the original one and is more flexible than it. It appears to have little relationship to the original plan's central ideas. Instead, in rather a Modernist fashion, it will fill in open spaces with display buildings. The new plan has, however, to deal with the changing economic conditions in the provision of higher education. The university is under increasing pressure to become financially independent. The implications for its future development and design are unclear. What is clear is that the design philosophy behind the Barnes scheme has set a precedent for other universities to follow (e.g. the University of Miami in Coral Gables). Purchase itself is not one of them. Short-run capital costs and donors' wishes will dominate the physical development of the university.

Major references

Dober, Richard P. (1992). Campus Planning. New

York: John Wiley, 120-1, 130-1. Goldberger, Paul (1997). The Architecture of Purchase College. Purchase, NY: Neuberger Museum of Art.

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