Some of the most exciting architecture in the world can be found on university campuses. In Europe, America and the Far East, vice chancellors and their architects have, over several centuries, produced an extraordinary range of innovative buildings. Sir Christopher Wren in Oxford, Thomas Jefferson in Virginia, and now Foster & Partners in the UK, Frank O. Gehry in the USA, Francoise Jourda and Gilles Perraudin in France, Rem Koolhaas in Holland and Michael Wilford & Partners in Singapore are all pushing at the architectural frontiers. The university campus has always been a special place for architecture. The mission of universities is frequently reflected in cutting-edge buildings, in novel approaches to urban design, and in new forms of social arrangements. As university education expands globally, the challenge is one of maintaining this rich and varied tradition. Two forces are driving the design agenda of the contemporary campus: one is concerned with sustainability, the other with the revival of place-making.
The discovery of global warming has its origins in the science developed in universities and it is here that some of the most recent experiments in ecological or low-energy design are to be found. The university campus gives us a glimpse into the sustainable future. Place-making has been a recurring theme of university architecture over centuries. The formal tradition of urban design finds expression, particularly on American campuses, in the close integration of building and landscape design. As the world struggles to achieve a sense of place out of global placelessness, it needs look no further than to the local university for useful lessons. This book has been written to highlight the importance of university architecture. It is intended as a guide to designers, to those who manage the estate we call the campus, and as an inspiration to students and academic staff. With nearly 40 per cent of school leavers attending university, the campus can influence the outlook of tomorrow's decision-makers to the benefit of architecture and society at large.