Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA

Bryn Mawr,


United States

Bryn Mawr College

Located fifteen miles northwest of Philadelphia in the town of Bryn Mawr (Welsh for “great hill”), this 135-acre campus was founded as a Quaker college for women. The earliest plan for the campus (then 32 acres) was developed by Calvert Vaux and Samuel Parsons, Jr., between 1882 and 1884. Vaux called for the siting of academic buildings atop a ridge, a dense border of vegetation to enclose the campus, and a network of curvilinear drives connected to the community via grand gateways. Through a number of commissions between 1887 and 1906, architects Walter Cope and John Stewardson established the architectural style of the campus. In 1897, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., worked with Cope and Stewardson to develop a master plan for the campus, which was growing beyond its earlier confines. Their plan encouraged strengthening border plantings and creating recreational space at the campus center. It also suggested siting buildings along the campus perimeter and the removal of an allée (the latter suggestion was not heeded and the maples are now known as “Senior Row.”) In 1908, John Charles Olmsted designed an enclosed garden with a fountain and reflecting pool at the college’s Deanery and, later, Olmsted Brothers designed an outdoor theater (never built) and advised on campus maintenance issues. In 1933, Ralph Adams Cram developed a Beaux-Arts plan for the campus, although the Great Depression stalled its realization. The historic campus plan was slowly abandoned through the 1950s and 1960s as new buildings were constructed and land acquisitions pushed its boundaries to the south. In 1965, dormitories designed by Louis Kahn and George Patton were completed. In 1997, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates created a framework plan focused on historical and ecological landscape characteristics. The 49-acre Bryn Mawr College Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. 

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