POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Architect Paul Byard, director of Columbia University's Historic Preservation Program, has worked with Vassar in recent years to survey a number of the historic campus's buildings. He will discuss "Vassar's Modernism," with particular attention to the Schweikher & Elking-designed Chicago Hall, on Tuesday, February 26, at 5:30 p.m., in room 107 of Chicago Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
In 2005, Vassar secured grant funds from the Getty Campus Heritage program to survey 52 campus buildings – with special attention to the preservation issues presented by buildings constructed since 1950, and to produce a historic preservation design manual. Byard has been a key participant in the project, and is also the architect for the planned renovation of the Vassar College Art Library.
Byard is a principal of Platt Byard Dovell White Architects, and the author of three books on architecture. His firm is noted for its distinguished designs for new buildings in complex contemporary contexts, including the New 42 Studios, which in 2000 was called "the best new building in Times Square" by New Yorker critic Paul Goldberger. Also an attorney, Byard was active in the development of the last modern American program of low income housing for the New York State Urban Development Corporation and in the development of the American law of preservation. He also supported the legal defense of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Law, against Constitutional attack.
Vassar chose the prominent New York architect James Renwick, Jr. to design its first campus building, the Second Empire-style Main Building. Patterned after the Tuilleries Palace in Paris and opened in 1865 as the nation's largest building, Main is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In the proceeding years, the college has continued to commission important examples of Medieval Revival, Second Empire, Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts, Modern, and Postmodern architecture, including designs beginning in the 1950s by Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Cesar Pelli.