Mastering McKim's Plan
Columbia's First Century on Morningside Heights
Barry Bergdoll, Hollee Haswell, and Janet Parks
Wallach Art Gallery, 1997
Distributed by Columbia University Press
8 1/2 x 11", 249 pp., 171 illus., 17 in color
ISBN I-884919-05-7, Cloth, $50
ISBN I-884919-04-9, Paper, $35
Perched on Morningside Heights on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Columbia University is one of the world's most distinguished centers of learning. It is also one of New York City's leading architectural attractions, not only representing a strong relationship between an institution and a neighborhood where the campus intertwines with the daily life of the city—but also reflecting the creativity and diversity, the competitiveness and toughness, of its setting.
Drawing on an abundance of materials from Columbia's Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, this book charts the architectural trajectory of this famed institution and celebrates the centennial of architect Charles Follen McKim's enduring vision of a spatially unified, architecturally integrated urban university.
The brilliant architectural master plan of Columbia University was commissioned in 1894 during a time of changing architectural, educational, and urban trends. The move of the campus from lower Manhattan to Midtown, and eventually to Morningside Heights, offered McKim the opportunity to integrate his sense of the monumental importance of a great university with the civic responsibility of such an institution. The genesis and eventual implementation of a master plan are rare in the history of American campus design, and Columbia's architecture is unique in that it continued to be governed by a unified vision that helped shape its identity for a full century.
At once a lavishly illustrated history of a university's architecture and a dialogue about the changing debates in American architecture, Mastering McKim's Plan will be cherished by architectural historians and historians of New York City as well as by general readers.