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The University Campus in the United States—As a Designed Work to Produce Knowledge; and as an Artefact of Cultural Heritage


The university campus in the United States is a unique architectural and landscape architecture typology. Nothing like it existed until Harvard University was established in 1638. Invented during in the 17th century by the American colonists and later developed during the American Industrial Revolution, the American campus is a community devoted to teaching and generating knowledge. It can be urban, suburban, and/or rural in form and its planning directly correlates with a university’s research mission and the pedagogy of the American university system. Its buildings and landscapes are embedded with iconography, which the founding builders used to convey their values to future generations. This paper presents the history of how this designed work first emerged in American society and then evolved in ways that responded to changes that occurred in America. At the end of the 20th century, universities conserved parts of them as cultural heritage monuments. Originally, the university campus was built to disseminate a classical education, but later, the campus was built for technical and agricultural education. By the beginning of the 20th century, professional education and sport changed its architecture and landscape. The paper briefly discusses that while it has inspired how universities are built to teach and generate knowledge throughout the world. It concludes by reaffirming its value to cultural heritage and that it should be conserved.


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Correspondence to Paul Hardin Kapp.

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Kapp, P.H. The University Campus in the United States—As a Designed Work to Produce Knowledge; and as an Artefact of Cultural Heritage. Built Heritage 2, 49–65 (2018).

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  • American university campus
  • conservation
  • pedagogy
  • building typology
  • cultural landscape