Chicago Hall, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

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Chicago Hall is definitely not mundane, but probably less well-known than Vassar College’s Saarinen-designed Noyes House or Breuer’s Ferry Cooperative House. Chicago Hall was built in 1959 as the last of the big three mid-century structures after Ferry and Noyes. It was built to house the school’s foreign language departments.

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The building is tucked away behind trees and the bulk of the library as well as several brick Victorian buildings, although originally it had more open space around it. It is only one-story but features an eye-catching barrel vaulted roofline and an energetic concrete screen. There is ample light for all rooms through the floor to ceiling windows and courtyard space. The screen was designed by Erwin Hauer and some striking vintage images of the screen and its construction can be found here.

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The architects were Schweikher and Elting, names not as prominent today as they would have been at the time. Their partnership came about when Schweikher joined the existing Chicago firm of Lamb and Elting. The location of the firm’s office clarifies why they were chosen for a building paid for with funds from Chicago alumni.

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Several sources say Paul Schweikher left the partnership by 1953 but Chicago Hall is still generally listed under the firm’s name. Schweikher is the more well-known of the two, having served as chair of Yale’s School of Architecture in the 1950s and then the Carnegie School of Architecture shortly after that. He has a wide-range of work still extant in the Chicago area as well as the Pittsburgh area (we previously featured one of those works here).

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2 Responses to Chicago Hall, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

  1. beautiful jewel that looks like it’s in great shape!

  2. John in Michigan, USA says:

    The architecture is important and worth preserving; however, as a former student, both I and the professors generally disliked the place – the interiors gave a cold, damp feeling and the interior light, while plentiful, seemed cold as well. Overall just a slight downer of a building, from the inside.

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