Georgia Tech: The Evolution of an American Campus
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Through the first 75-plus years of its history the growth of Georgia Tech was deliberately incremental. Lots for new buildings were acquired one after another, within the larger urban street and block structure that existed in Atlanta at the time. However, in 1962, with the property acquisition benefits of the federal urban renewal program, Georgia Tech changed its format from incremental change within and urban framework to a campus organization that turned away from the city and attempted to create its own organizing strategy. This paper is organized around three questions. First, if some urban universities are attempting to operate within or against a city which hosts it, like Georgia Tech, then what is the form of the traditional American city? This question is addressed by describing briefly the morphology of the American city and its design features. Second, what is the form of the American campus? This will be addressed through a brief history of the American Campus and setting out the particular design characteristics that make the American Campus visible. The final question addresses the particular case of the Georgia Tech campus: how do these two forms – the American Campus and American City – combine to create the current form of the GT campus? This question is addressed by examining the history of Georgia Tech, with a specific focus on campus expansion and construction, combined with a diagrammatic representation of Georgia Tech’s change over time. The paper concludes with a reflection on the current state of Georgia Tech, and the challenges faced by current campus planners, suggesting that if campus/city dialectic had been recognized earlier, the Georgia Tech campus might be a more coherent, compelling and expressive today.