In today’s New York Times, a front page article titled Rural Colleges Seek New Edge and Urbanize: A new concept of the college campus is taking root: a small city in the country that is not for only the young.
What does Northfield and its colleges have to learn from this trend?
“When you picture a global university, you picture urban,” said Amy Gutmann, the Penn president. “You picture restaurants, art galleries, you picture day and night, taking in movies, live performances.”
Buildings will be close to the street and roads kept narrow to encourage pedestrian traffic and de-emphasize cars. The neighborhood and its buildings are meant to recall the housing and shops built in American towns in the first half of the 20th century.
“It is about creating walkable places that are sustainable and gratifying on a human scale,” said Robert L. Chapman, managing director of Traditional Neighborhood Development Partners, the developer of what will be called the Village at Hendrix.
“I think liberal arts colleges and universities are all about the serendipitous moments,” said John Fry, president of Franklin & Marshall. “You’re in the coffee shop on a Saturday morning sipping a cup of coffee and you run into a professor, and two hours later you’ve had one of those transformative moments.”