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 Campus Design

Campus design bird's eye view

In the early 1960s, the Massachusetts state legislature created Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute (SMTI) with the merging of two schools: New Bedford Institute of Technology and Bradford Durfee College of Technology. Six million dollars was appointed for construction of a new campus that would be located on a 700-acre site in North Dartmouth. This would become the school we know today as UMass Dartmouth.

Once the location of the automobile entrance was determined, Rudolph began work on the campus master plan for the university. He designed the Group I and Group II buildings with a grass corridor that would go through the heart of the campus, turn 90 degrees, and then lead straight to the Cedar Dell Pond. In later designs, the ring road and parking lots were added to the campus.

The hierarchy of buildings is clear. The academic buildings are at the heart of the campus. Moving out towards the ring, the administrative building and student union building (the campus center) were added. These structures helped to fill the gap at the angle that leads to the pond. The Foster Administration Building, the amphitheater at the library, and later the Visual and Performing Arts Building (Group VI) were all built at right angles to the pond. The first student residence halls were located directly across from the ring road, so that students would have an easy walk to the campus center and dining hall.

Rudolph understood that students (and faculty, staff and visitors) would first enter the school by car. The ring road and parking lots are separated from the buildings (in many places) by screens of trees. A student would leave his or her car, cross another buffer of trees, bushes and berm (low rising hills), and enter the pedestrian campus. A series of pathways connects the various parking lots and buildings on campus. One of Rudolph’s guiding principles was to keep pedestrians away from their automobiles. Trees, gardens and other places to walk were kept separate from cars and the roadway.