‘Surveying the Campus Landscape’: Rameé’s Grand Design

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By Matt Olson

Union is showcasing copies of the original drawings Joseph Rameé drew for the college’s campus.

The drawings were completed in 1813 and were the precursor to the first comprehensively-designed campus in the United States.

Rameé, a Frenchman, was visiting the United States in 1813 when he met Eliphalet Nott, the president of the college at the time.

From there, Nott and Rameé worked closely to create a campus that would foster academic relationships between students and faculty members.

The first two buildings constructed from the “grand design” were North and South Colleges, now occupied by Wold, Messa, Sorum and Green Houses.

The North and South Colonnades were added to create a “horseshoe” design around the central building of the campus, originally labeled the “Rotunda.” The Rotunda eventually became the Nott Memorial and is a dedication to Nott.

This year, the college celebrates the 200th anniversary of this architectual design by displaying copies of the original drawings made my Rameé in the Mandeville Gallery, on the second floor of the Nott Memorial.

The exhibit began April 11 and will continue through May 26.

The college’s campus served as a model for various other college campuses and has remained relatively intact throughout its 200 years.

North and South colleges first served as student and faculty residences, including for Nott, prior to the construction of the President’s Residence, which was completed in 1861.

The exhibit began with a reception on April 16 that was attended by President Stephen Ainlay and Judith Ainlay, as well as Paul Turner, class of 1962, who is considered the foremost expert on the campus architecture.

The 200 days of Rameé continues as the college celebrates the campus and its impact on future campuses, including part of the campus of the University of Virginia and many others.

The 200 days will conclude on Alumni Weekend.

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