GC Building History | Part 5 | The Exterior Spaces

Green College Staff

We have taken a journey through many facets of history and memory at the College, but we are far from finished. 

Last week, we explored the name behind Graham in Graham House. This week, we are going back to the character of Green College, specifically the exterior spaces.

When exploring the meaning behind the resident building and rooms, the purpose of the walkways came to light. The architects of Green College designed the walkways in such a particular way as to invite and create conversations in the most unexpected ways.

The exterior spaces surrounding Green College are no different. “Instead of one main quadrangle, there is a necklace of spaces each with its own character and ambience.”

Green College had architects design the buildings, but landscape architects with expertise conceived the detailed outdoor space. The landscape architects, Christopher Phillips and Associates (now Phillips, Farevaag, and Smallenberg) were in charge of the outdoor spaces.

One priority was the preservation of existing vegetation due to the many unique species on the site. A testament to this dedication was this: After the College was in place, most of the plant material that had to be removed during the building process was maintained and returned.

Time, care and research created many of the loving outdoor experiences we enjoy today. Garden plans from the original rose garden and the 1915 garden were studied to ensure connections with the past.  The original rose garden from these plans became revitalized to the fragrance garden, located to the east of Graham House. The fragrance garden as we know, is a “quiet, contemplative corner in the morning sun.”  The fragrance garden consists of a rose variety with the purpose of creating an allure of an earlier time. Further, behind Graham House, “the abandoned swimming pool and greenhouse or solarium were given new life as a kitchen garden.”

As we can see, the driving integrity behind the landscape architects was to ensure the beating life of energy from the past while properly caring for the site around the College.

The outdoor space can be viewed as an extension of the formative buildings around Green College, but are unique in their own energy. The core quadrangle has characteristics of the surrounding buildings, but the open space reflects a social and practical purpose.

When you pan over to the gardens behind the College, it is an invitation to stroll and give pause to a reflection of history. Arriving at the fragrance garden allows a moment to linger, or stay for a while between the blossoming present and past. 

We can see a push and pull between public and private, ceremonious and quiet. The exterior spaces around Green College were created in such a way from intimacy to openness and the unpredictability, granting infinite possibilities.

Photos: Refano Lumempouw

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