Scope and Content Source:
The Ramée Architectural Plans for Union College is a collection of the surviving plans drawn for the College by French architect Joseph Jacques Ramée in 1813, presented here for the first time in a digital format. Ramée’s designs, drawn in collaboration with Union College President Eliphalet Nott, reflect an evolving vision for the campus.
Joseph Jacques Ramée was a well-known architect and an itinerant designer in Europe, whose work could be seen in Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. The style which developed in his designs was a product of his nomadism: to the Neoclassicism of his training in France, he eclectically adopted elements from the architectural pallet of whatever locale he was working in. His tendency was to work with basic shapes and spare forms, suitable to versatile settings. In January 1813, Nott came into contact with Joseph Ramée, as the architect traveled south through New York State on his way to Philadelphia. Nott had a unique vision for higher education, coupling a modern and practical focus in the curriculum with the ideal of a college community as an extended family. To embody this vision, the campus itself had to be more than just a functional space. Nott apparently found a practical match for his ideas in Ramée, whom he contracted to draw plans for the Union campus. While Ramée’s vision is evident in the Union College of today, its influence was felt throughout the collegiate world in its time. The Union College plan became a model for what a campus could be and what kind of values a college could embody.