Special Collections reveal rich history of Bragaw Residence Hall landscape on NC State campus

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Blog post contributed by Lindsey Naylor

The Landscape Architecture Archive in the Special Collections Research Center provided historical insight on Monday for Master of Landscape Architecture students working to redesign the courtyard space behind Bragaw Residence Hall.

The full space between the Bragaw, Lee and Sullivan residence halls was designed in the early 1970s by Lewis Clarke, a well-known modernist landscape architect who taught in the NC State Department of Landscape Architecture during the 1950s and 1960s. The Lewis Clarke Collection , one of the largest in the archive, includes as-built drawings and project files for the space, which was one of several residence hall projects that Clarke’s firm completed for NC State at the time.

Clarke’s original design included an amphitheater, a rolling lawn with clusters of trees, a courtyard off of the Bragaw common area, an entry planting off of the Sullivan parking lot, and a series of sweeping brick paths with white brick accents that echoed the style of the paths designed by Richard Bell and installed a decade earlier to the west of the Brickyard.

Students are proposing new designs for the Bragaw space, which has morphed over time as Fountain Dining Hall was constructed and as new paths were installed that cut through the original design. The drawings and files from the Clarke collection helped paint a picture for students of how and why the Bragaw space evolved, which pieces of the current landscape are remnants of the Clarke design, and how a new design might respond to the site’s historical context.

In addition to the Clarke drawings and files, students were able to review slide images from the Office of the University Architect Records that showed Clarke’s models and concept diagrams for the project, the construction process, and the final constructed space.

 

Students examine slide images of Clarke's models and of the 1970s iteration of the Bragaw landscape.

Images in the Rare and Unique Digital Collections showed students how the space was used before Bragaw’s construction in 1958: During the 1940s the site was home to Vetville, a community of pre-fabricated apartments for veteran students with families, and one of several campus projects built quickly to accommodate the post-war boom of students attending NC State with support from the G.I. Bill .

 

The site once was home to Vetville, a pre-fabricated apartment community for veteran students with families.

Combined, the collections offered a rich history of the site for students who are considering how to transform it yet again. Students will translate their designs into construction documents, with the possibility that one scheme will be constructed by a summer Design+Build class. The studio, LAR 503 Design Development, led by Carla Delcambre and Jesse Turner, is working with University Housing and the NC State Facilities Division to get feedback on designs throughout the semester.