240 Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc., "Concept Plan for the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital Acquisition and Adjacent Properties," 16 March 1991, 3.
How has Rich's campus fared in the years since he helped create it? Fairly well: the only major building not to survive is the Butterfield Museum. Though Rich's buildings have generally changed little on their exteriors, all have undergone extensive alterations inside. Except for Commons in College Hall, all of the large rooms Rich created are now divided into smaller ones. The most recent example is in Webster Hall, where Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates placed a bookstack in the apse and crossing in 1997-9. The Little Theater in Robinson Hall, the Faculty Room in Parkhurst, the lecture hall and the Commercial Museum in Tuck, and main room in Dartmouth Hall no longer exist. Alumni Gymnasium has the only other large interior space designed by Rich: the eastern half of the formerly-open hall now contains a swimming pool.
The planning of the campus has continued to recognize the turn-of-the-century buildings that form its core in the decades that followed Rich's tenure. Jens Larson's campus additions of the 1920s and 1930s reinforce Rich's work at Massachusetts Row, the Terrace and the Gymnasium, and Larson continued to build faculty housing near Rich's Parkside. Larson's several buildings on Tuck Mall define a space that the College first devised in Rich's time and that his Hitchcock Hall began to flesh out. Most of the College's modernist buildings of 1956-1987, if displaying no particular affinity for Rich's campus, are not actively hostile to it. The Blunt Alumni Center offers an interesting exception--the 1980 administrative wing attaches to the rear of Crosby as had the Rich addition that it replaced. But the building, with its spare white Corbusian walls and awkwardly jutting plan, stands isolated and practically suburban behind some of the only ground plantings at the College.
Dartmouth's postwar buildings generally did no particular injustice to the pedestrian basis of the campus either, in contrast to contemporary buildings of many universities. In Rich's time the College set an example of building densely, since most people arrived by coach from the train station and got around on foot; the one notable hiccup since that time is the distant Wigwam dormitories (1958-62), now the River Cluster.239 These buildings followed in the footsteps of the nearby Wigwam Circle, temporary post-W.W.II housing.
Today Dartmouth's planning moves in two opposite directions: one explicitly claims to be an heir to Rich, as in Denise Scott Brown's plan for a "quadrangle" in the ravine north of Baker Library.240 In designing Dartmouth's largest physical expansion in half a century or more, V.S.B.A. draw on the Fayerweather-Dartmouth double row of buildings, as well as the form of the Terrace. The firm also cites the five-minute walking radius as a useful tradition to follow.
The Centerra strip mall on Route 120 east of town, owned by a College affiliate, represents the second strain of planning. The Hospital also relocated to an isolated enclave near the mall, in a former forest preserve. The idea that driving is something one does on a pleasant auto road, which Bremer Pond first invoked at Dartmouth in his 1912 Tuck Drive, has metamorphosed into something else. The fact that these recent developments are outside the campus proper seems to free them from the rules of urban design that the College elsewhere promotes so vigorously. It does not mean, however, that Rich's model of coherent open spaces surrounded by closely-spaced buildings in a walkable precinct is no longer worthwhile.
©1998-99 Scott Meacham
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