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M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives

Edward Durell Stone and the Building of the Uptown Campus, 1961-1971

Architectural model of the Uptown Campus

Architectural model of the Uptown Campus designed by Edward Durell Stone as viewed from the north to the south.
Photography by Burns Brothers, University Archives Photograph Collection, #881

Edward Durell Stone and the Building of the Uptown Campus, 1961-1971 contains items drawn from the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives' University Archives and book collection and is on exhibit in the lobby of the University Library from September through December 2006 and an expanded version will be unveiled in January 2007 in the Science Library. A number of items and information from the exhibit are made available here as an introduction to the physical exhibit. As part of the Architecture at Albany year-long exploration of the built environment at the University at Albany and its surrounding community, the exhibit profiles the work of architect Edward Durrell Stone, provides a glimpse into the construction of the Uptown Campus, and highlights the reactions to and uses of the University at Albany's Main Campus. The exhibit was curated by Geoffrey P. Williams, University Archivist.

New Campus Architect Views Work, Stone Reacts Favorably to Buildings

Edward Durell Stone

Edward Durell Stone was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1902 and died in New York City in 1978. He attended the University of Arkansas, Harvard Architectural School, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture. Initially a disciple of the International School of architecture, by the 1950s he had developed his own romantic international style. By the mid-1950s Stone was so well known that he was featured on the cover of Time magazine, a singular honor for an architect. By then he had designed the United State Embassy in New Delhi, India (1954) and the United States Pavilion at the Brussels World Fair.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the Campus

Governor Nelson Rockefeller picked Edward Durell Stone to design a campus that concentrated buildings in the center of the campus, leaving cars and parkland around the perimeter. Governor Nelson Rockefeller took a keen interest in the campus, addressing the first Commencement in 1966, loaning his art collection for the first University Art Gallery exhibit and attending it's opening, and campaigning for President on the campus in 1968.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller with Albany Mayor Erastus Corning at the unveiling of the architect's model of the Uptown Campus
A crane lifts a portion of a building

Campus Construction

The Uptown Campus was constructed between 1961 and 1971 on the former rolling hills of the Albany Country Club and the first classes were held on the Academic Podium in the fall 1966. The entire area was bulldozed into a flat sandy site removing all trees and contours before construction started. During construction, all of the supporting columns, walls, and roofs were pre-cast yielding significant construction savings as forms were used over and over again.

The Academic Podium as the Center of the Academy

Stone's vision of the Academic Podium as the center of the Academy has had considerable success. From the late 1960s to today the podium has been the favored site for political demonstrations, student activities, and official activities such as Candlelight Ceremony welcoming freshman and Torch Night. The Academic Podium also has a lighter side. Students coined the word "podiating" to describe informally relaxing on the podium. The fountain area quickly attracted student interest, first as a wading pool, and then as the site of Fountain Day, a sometimes raucous celebration of the arrival of spring. Stone was pleased by the use of the fountain as an informal wading pool.

United States Representative Ogden Reid speaking at the Vietnam Moratorium, October 15, 1969, held on the Academic Podium

Additional Resources

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives' holdings include a number of resources related to the University at Albany's campuses including:

Contact the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives for further information

Exhibited Curated by Geoffrey P. Williams, University Archivist

Last updated September 11, 2006