The Philadelphia School, deterritorialized

Zodiac 17   September 1967

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The Dormitory for Bryn Mawr is a sister to the Unitarian Church in Rochester. Both buildings light their main spaces through windows housed in monumentally-scaled hoods projecting above the roof, while their walls are made to advance and recede in depth through the reception of light window bays. But while the Unitarian Church is harsh and masculine in brick, the Dormitory is lyric in its Tuscan cladding of gray slate and precast concrete binding trim-- a sheathing as industrially realistic as synthetic plastics and considerably more logical over cinder block here.

The Dormitory is also strikingly well sited. From above, it is a low garden Wall which receives the path from the main campus; from below a fine high palisade stretched across its military crest. So flexible do the exterior mass and the interior spaces seem to be that one is never aware of the fact that the plan is made up of three rigid squares point to point.

The interior spaces are appropriately less heroic and more baronially domestic than those in Rochester. The smooth concrete stair housings of the central hall make a marvellous setting for girls to appear in. They create an environment at the scale of those painted by Giotto, with openings like the windows through which his angels burst, and in which they are lovingly framed.



Quondam © 2002.08.10