Fuld Hall Courtyard Renovation
An initiative to provide new landscaping to the courtyard entrance of Fuld Hall has been generously supported by the Leon Levy Foundation and guided by Institute Trustee Shelby White. Noted landscape architect Patrick Chassé has reconfigured the Fuld courtyard, pictured below, to evoke a Georgian-style ornamental garden, adding symmetrical ramps that now frame the main steps in a welcoming and elegant design. Work on the courtyard began in October 2007 and the new design features four Japanese ornamental trees, two white fringe trees, boxwood shrubs, and beds of ground covers and seasonal bulbs.
As it embarked on the project, the Institute simultaneously commissioned a historic landscape study, also funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. It was directed by Chassé and conducted by Thomas J. Elmore of Elmore Design Collaborative in Suffield, Connecticut. Archival documents at the Institute and elsewhere were reviewed to fully understand the development of the Institute’s campus.
As the first Institute building, constructed in 1939, Fuld Hall has served as the primary entrance over the years for Faculty, Members, and Visitors. The Georgian structure was conceived and executed by architect Jens Fredrick Larson, who was hired by Institute Director (1939–47) Frank Aydelotte, former president of Swarthmore College. Larson also designed buildings at Dartmouth College, Bucknell University, and Wake Forest University, among other distinguished campuses. Of Larson’s development plan for the Institute campus, Faculty member (1933–60) Oswald Veblen noted, “Larson’s plan is by far the best adapted to our needs, and also the best architecturally.” An early sketch of the Fuld Hall courtyard, conceived by Larson as a simplified Georgian-style ornamental garden, with paved paths and geometric panels of lawn, was discovered among Aydelotte’s papers at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore. The current renovation includes ramps, as modern needs require, but Chassé’s overall design is in the spirit of Larson’s original idea.