The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Princeton


America's Campus W. Barksdale Maynard
  • Copyright: 2012
  • Dimensions: 8 x 10
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Illustrations: 150 b&w illustrations/
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05085-0
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-05086-7
“Anyone interested in universities, architecture, and social history will want to read this fascinating book.”
“An eloquent history of the distinguished Princeton campus. Thank you, Barksdale Maynard.”
“This unprecedented history of the Princeton University campus is fascinating. W. Barksdale Maynard uses the evolution of the campus architecture and landscape as a window onto the evolution of higher education in America, the country’s social and political milieu, and the context of contemporaneous architectural interests. All of these topics are interwoven with animated stories of influential characters: university leaders, faculty and administrators, important alumni, and students, as well as many architects, landscape designers, and artists. Beyond simply providing an account of an extraordinary campus with a stunning variety of buildings, the stories Maynard tells reveal the rich and interesting evolution of American architecture from the mid-eighteenth to the early twenty-first centuries.”
“As I began to read Barksdale Maynard’s meticulous opus on the architecture of Princeton, I sensed that it would be a marvelous excursion into radiant nostalgia. Moving deep into its engrossing pages and pictures, I realized that the book allows us to discover a deliberately aesthetic environment, one that even alumni may not have noted on their pedestrian routes through campus. All in all, the sentinels over at the admissions office had better hold Princeton: America’s Campus close to their vests—unless, that is, they wish for applications to double.”
“The Princeton campus is indeed what most of us think a campus should be—an architectural gem. Barksdale Maynard's superb book matches the subject—it is a literary gem. Alumni and non-alumni alike will find it absorbing.”
“The finest study I know of the architecture and planning of an American campus.”
“Barksdale Maynard has produced a thoroughly entertaining account of the Princeton campus—a national treasure—from its rural beginnings to its current metropolitan situation. It documents three hundred years of ‘the conviction that aesthetic surroundings deeply impress the young and help shape their character and outlook.’ Princeton University’s history tracks American civilization, contributing wisdom and leadership in all arenas, not least in architecture.”

Founded in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest university in the country. It has been called “a national treasure” and is considered by many to be the loveliest campus in America. The very word “campus” debuted there in the eighteenth century, and over time, Princeton’s has ceaselessly evolved, passing through a series of distinct identities. Architectural critics have lavishly praised it, and careful stewardship by administrators and architects has preserved its appeal from generation to generation. Thousands of alumni return every year to march in the gaudy P-rade, which twists among the buildings in a veritable tour of campus history, from Nassau Hall (1756) to the twenty-first century’s Bloomberg Hall. And yet, if one wants to learn more—to go deeper than the beautiful surface and explore the history of these buildings or the complex development of the campus—it can be surprisingly hard to do so. Although Princeton resembles an outdoor museum, explanatory markers are few, written sources are out of print and scattered, and sophomore tour guides cheerfully mix fact and myth. No plaques help the curious visitor who wishes to follow in the footsteps of James Madison, Aaron Burr, James McCosh, Albert Einstein, John Foster Dulles, Bill Bradley, or Michelle Obama, and the stories of the buildings themselves are known to few. Princeton: America’s Campus offers a way in. Neither a straightforward architectural history nor a simple guidebook, it weaves social history and the built fabric into a biography of a great American place.

To create this work, Barksdale Maynard conducted an ambitious series of interviews with major architects active at Princeton over the past forty years, including Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Charles Gwathmey, Michael Graves, Tod Williams, Hugh Hardy, Perry Morgan, Rodolfo Machado, Henry Cobb, Frances Halsband, Demetri Porphyrios, Harold Fredenburgh, Alan Chimacoff, Robert A. M. Stern, and Rafael Viñoly. He also interviewed educational leaders, including deans at Princeton, MIT, Cooper Union, and Yale, in addition to university presidents Goheen and Bowen of Princeton, Gutmann of Penn, and Rudenstine of Harvard. The book is thus not just a guide and a history; it is also an archive of the living recollections of the people who built Princeton’s majestic campus.

W. Barksdale Maynard is the author of five books on American history, architecture, and landscape. Trained as an architectural historian, he has taught at Johns Hopkins and Princeton.



Part 1: The Rural Campus, 1746–1895

1 Going Back to Nassau Hall

2 Phoenix

3 Era of McCosh

4 The Golden Age of College Life

5 Oxford in New Jersey

Part 2: Triumph of Collegiate Gothic, 1896–1932

6 The Poetry of Cope and Stewardson

7 Wilson and Cram

8 Spires and Gargoyles

9 Gothic as a Living Style

10 A Paradise for WASPs

11 Cram’s Magnificent Chapel

Part 3: Arguing About Modernism, 1933–1979

12 God Deliver Us from Chromium and Concrete

13 Goodbye Gothic

14 Goheen Goes Modern

15 Co-Ed

Part 4: The Rise and Fall of Postmodernism, 1980–2010

16 Complexity and Contradiction with Venturi

17 Neomodernism in the Age of Affluence

18 A Surprising Reversion to Gothic

19 The Gehry That Landed on Ivy Lane


Appendix: Buildings of Princeton University, 1754–2010



Illustration Credits


Other Ways to Acquire

Buy from
Buy from an Independent Bookstore
Buy from Powell's Books
Buy from Barnes and

Also of Interest

Also of interest book cover

Villanova University, 1842–1992

Also of interest book cover

This Is Penn State

An Insider's Guide to the University Park Campus
Also of interest book cover

Liberalizing the Mind

Two Centuries of Liberal Education at Franklin & Marshall College