College campuses are an important point of pride for most universities, often representing decades of planning and construction. A college campus’s design can be an opportunity to display different architectural styles and a chance to blend libraries, lecture halls, and student living quarters with the natural surroundings. Here are some of the most beautiful college campuses in America that demonstrate both modes.
St. Olaf College
Location: Northfield, Minnesota
St. Olaf College sits on a 300-acre campus known as “The Hill,” which is adjacent to a restored wetland and woods and is surrounded by native tall prairie grass. The campus itself is home to many magnificent maple trees and a wind turbine that provides about a third of the university’s power needs. The campus consists of over 50 buildings, 20 of which were designed to complement one another by Edward Sovik, an architect who also taught as a professor of arts at St. Olaf until his death in 2014.
The most famous building on campus, the Old Main, was designed over a century ago, in 1877. Both the Old Main and the nearby Steensland Library are gothic-style buildings and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Florida Southern College
Location: Lakeland, Florida
The highlight of Florida Southern College’s 110-acre campus is the extensive collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings spread across the grounds. There are 10 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures in total, giving Florida Southern College the largest collection of the architect’s work in the world.
The first building constructed, Annie Pfeiffer’s Chapel, was dedicated in 1941. The concrete, geometric exterior of the building is complemented by striking colored glass that allows beautiful shades of light to enter the building. The collection has been deemed so significant that the entire campus was named a historic district on the National Register of Historic places.
University of Washington
Location: Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington’s 703-acre campus is located within the city limits of Seattle. Despite its urban setting, however, the university features some of the most striking natural backdrops of any college in the country. The snowcapped peaks of both the Cascade and Olympic Mountains are visible from campus, and on the best days, Mount Rainier sits framed by the magnificent Drumheller Fountain.
Mountains are not the only element that make the campus so visually appealing. Douglas firs are omnipresent across the campus, and the central quad is flanked by cherry blossoms in the spring. Landmark buildings are also in no short supply, such as Suzzalo Library, which features a 35-foot stained glass window, and Denny Hall, a French Revival style building that served as the center of campus when the university moved to its current location in 1895.
Location: Mount Berry, Georgia
Berry College in Mount Berry has the largest contiguous campus in the world. The college is spread over 27,000 acres of lawns, fields, forests, and all of Lavender Mountain. The massive campus is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and includes over 80 miles of trails that students and guests can hike, bike or horseback ride on. Don’t expect to be alone, however. The campus is also home to an estimated 2,500 deer and a migratory population of swans.
The college itself consists of stately English gothic-style buildings alongside decorative fountains and pools that are designed to reflect the structures.
Location: Claremont, California
In contrast, the Scripps College campus covers only 37 acres, but the school handles that small space masterfully. Scripps is in Claremont and was designed in a beautiful Spanish Revival style according to a master plan devised in 1926 by English born architect Gordon Kaufman. The wonderful architecture is complemented by grapefruit, kumquat, and orange trees throughout campus, and a blooming rose garden adds even more color. These unique elements helped put Scripps College on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.