The 1921 master plan that Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., working in conjunction with Ralph Adams Cram, developed for the 720-acre Wellesley College campus was organized around existing glacier-formed topographic features: wetland meadows, a lake, and the native plant communities of the existing landscape. As the campus evolved in the later half of the 20th Century, a number of misguided architectural and infrastructural projects eroded this uniquely site-sensitive vision. These included placing buildings in meadows instead of on the crests of hills and ridges, realigning roads to facilitate rapid vehicular movement, and allowing the perceived need for ubiquitous availability of parking to drive the development of the campus landscape.
The MVVA master plan sought to renew the historic campus landscape, restore pedestrian sovereignty, and respond to contemporary program needs. A series of interventions were designed to address the pragmatics of modern campus living while simultaneously restoring the site-specificity of Wellesley's rich landscape tradition. Key among these recommendations was moving cars from the lowland areas, the wet meadows, and the edges of byways and historic greens into a central parking facility associated with a much needed new campus center. Other recommendations include carefully siting new buildings, replanting a mature tree canopy, reintroducing meadow ecologies, pruning trees to reestablish view corridors, restoring courtyards, expanding athletic fields, developing preservation options for adjoining land parcels, and re-evaluating maintenance procedures. Since the acceptance of the master plan in 1998, several implementation projects have been overseen by MVVA, including the Alumnae Valley Landscape Restoration project.
The Wellesley College Master Plan won a 1999 ASLA Planning and Analysis Merit Award.
Wellesley College Campus Master Plan