The French architect Joseph Ramée produced drawings for the Union College campus after
meeting with President Eliphalet Nott in January of 1813. Ramée (1764-1842) had trained in Paris,
where he adopted the simplified neoclassicism that would define his career. Forced to leave France
during the Revolution, he spent the rest of his life moving from place to place, designing buildings
and landscapes in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the United States, as well as in France. The
campus plan for Union College was one of his most important works. It was also the most
ambitious and innovative design for an American college or university campus up until that time.
A portfolio of the drawings was unexpectedly discovered in 1932, and the drawings are now
held in the Schaffer Library Special Collections at Union College. The exhibition includes
facsimiles of many of the drawings seen from front and back, as many are two-sided. They
include site plans of the whole campus as well as plans
of individual buildings and
range from rough sketches
to detailed watercolor renderings.
Important features of the design are the central
rotunda (possibly the source of the rotunda at the University of Virginia), arcaded connections
between buildings, and close attention to landscaping.
The catalogue for the exhibition, authored by Paul V. Turner, is the first comprehensive
treatment of these drawings. Turner, a native of Schenectady and graduate of Union College, is
Wattis Professor of Art Emeritus at Stanford University and is an expert on the history of the
American campus, as well as the life and career of Ramée. The catalogue reproduces in color all of
Ramée's drawings for Union College and can be ordered after April 15 from the Union College
A reception with Paul Tuner will be held on Tuesday, April 16 from 5:00PM-6:00PM in the Nott
Memorial. For more information call 518.388.8360 or go the website at www.union.edu/gallery