VASSAR COLLEGE MASTER PLAN
Poughkeepsie, NY (2009–ongoing)
The calm monumentality of Vassar College’s buildings and courtyards is supported by a robust landscape setting of magnificent trees, broad reflective lakes, and intimate stream corridors, making for a quintessentially American campus. While other universities have lost their skating ponds and woodland edges over the years, the Vassar landscape remains very much intact, albeit severely strained, despite the growth of the college over the years. Revered by students, faculty, and alumni, the connection to nature cultivated within the Vassar campus landscape contributes as much to its “power of place” as its venerable buildings do. Inspired by a community-wide effort to identify and address the most pressing issues facing the campus, the central goal of MVVA’s 2010 Vassar College Landscape Master Plan is to preserve this essential character of Vassar’s landscape legacy while further accommodating the sustainable evolution of the contemporary institution.
An initial look into the Vassar campus revealed a cherished landscape legacy that needed to evolve in order to accommodate system-wide challenges to its future social and environmental integrity including degraded water systems, a high percentage of very old trees, new trees that are under stress, the lack of direct accessible routes through campus and into historic buildings, and a circulation system for cars and pedestrians that has become confusing as the campus has grown. Most of the landscape issues that will concern the Vassar community in the years to come will be on the scale of specific campus systems – circulation, parking, wayfinding and signage, ecology, horticulture, and stormwater. Although each of these issues might have been partially resolved through improvements to specific precincts within the campus, the MVVA plan advocates for coordinated systemwide change.