Collegiate Gothic

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Collegiate Gothic is an architectural style subgenre of Gothic Revival architecture, popular in the 19th and 20th centuries for school structures on campuses in both the United States, and Canada and to a certain extent Europe.


19th century[edit]

The Mitchell Tower, University of Chicago (left) – modeled after the Magdalen Tower, Oxford (right)
Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Charles Klauder, architect. This is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere.[1]

The beginnings of Collegiate Gothic architecture in North America date back to 1829 when "Old Kenyon" was completed on the campus of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.[citation needed] This was followed in 1837 by Old Main at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.[2]

Later, in 1878, Seabury and Jarvis Halls were completed on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Together with Northam Towers there, these buildings make up what is known as the "Long Walk". Built to plans drawn up by William Burges, these buildings remain among the best examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture in the United States.

In 1894 Cope and Stewardson completed Pembroke Hall on the campus of Bryn Mawr College. At Bryn Mawr, Cope and Stewardson combined the original Gothic architecture of Oxford and Cambridge Universities with the American Early Gothic Revival style and the local New England landscape, to establish the Collegiate Gothic style.[3] Commissions shortly followed for buildings on the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Washington University in St. Louis, marking the nascent beginnings of a movement that transformed many college campuses across the country.

20th century[edit]

The Collegiate Gothic movement gained further momentum when Charles Donagh Maginnis designed Gasson Hall at Boston College in 1908. Publication of its design in 1909, and praise from influential American architect Ralph Adams Cram, helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the prevailing architectural style on American university campuses for decades. Maginnis & Walsh went on to design buildings at some twenty-five other campuses, including the main buildings at Emmanuel College (Massachusetts), and the law school at the University of Notre Dame.

Gasson Hall is credited for establishing the typology of dominant Gothic towers in subsequent campus designs, including those at Princeton (Cleveland Tower, 1913–1917), Yale (Harkness Tower, 1917–1921), and Duke (Chapel Tower, 1930–1935).

Architect James Gamble Rogers' extensive work at Yale University, beginning in 1917, may be the prototypical example of the genre.[citation needed] His designs lent an air of instant heritage and gravitas to the campus.[citation needed] Rogers was criticized by other prominent American Gothic Revival architects, namely Cram, for his use of steel frames underneath stone cladding, and tricks such as splashing acid on stone walls to simulate age. Rogers was also criticized by the growing Modernist movement of the time. The 1927 Sterling Memorial Library came under especially vocal attack from Yale students for its historicist spirit and its lavish use of ornament.

Charles Klauder's steel-frame, limestone-clad, 42-story skyscraper, the Cathedral of Learning, serves as the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh's campus. The world's second tallest university building and second tallest gothic-styled building,[1] it has been described as the literal culmination of late gothic revival architecture.[4] Constructed between 1926 and 1937, the building also contains a half-acre gothic hall whose mass is supported only by its 52-foot (16 m) tall arches.[5] The Cathedral of Learning is accompanied by other gothic structures by Klauder, including the university's Stephen Foster Memorial and the French gothic revival Heinz Memorial Chapel.

Other notable examples of Collegiate Gothic include the extensive and consistent collection of designs at the University of Chicago.

The style was also frequently used to design high schools and even elementary school buildings.

Architects of the Collegiate Gothic style[edit]

The Wallis Annenberg Hall at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is an example of new collegiate gothic architecture. The grand building, set to open 2014, will feature advanced technology for communication and journalism.


Gasson Hall at Boston College helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the prevailing architectural style on American university campuses for decades
Gothic Revival buildings on the University of Chicago campus, seen from the Midway Plaisance
Quadrangle Dormitories, University of Pennsylvania (1895), Cope and Stewardson, architects.
Thompson Memorial Chapel, Williams College

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Old Main". Knox College. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Collegiate Gothic". Bryn Mawr Library. 
  4. ^ Trump, James D. (1975-08-25). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form: Cathedral of Learning" (PDF). Pennsylvania's Historic Architecture & Archaeology. Retrieved 2009-10-08. " the literal sense of the word, Late Gothic Revival architecture culminated in the University of Pittsburgh's skyscraping Cathedral of Learning". Marcus Whiffen, architecture historian 
  5. ^ Toker, Franklin (2009). Pittsburgh: A New Portrait. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 327. ISBN 0-8229-4371-9. 
  6. ^ "Collegiate Gothic - Cope and Stewardson". Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections. 2001. Retrieved June 11, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Replace or Modernize? The Future of the District of Columbia's Endangered Old and Historic Public Schools: Eastern Senior High School" (PDF). 21st Century School Fund. May 2001. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Orange Key Virtual Tour: Blair Hall". Princeton University. Retrieved June 11, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Virtual Tour of Penn's Campus: The Quadrangle". University of Pennsylvania . Archived from the original on September 24, 2005. Retrieved June 11, 2015.