Campus Buildings Designed by Alums

Posted by John Dojka on May 29, 2009

I've been immersed in the history of campus buildings lately and, being saturated with lots of interesting information, I feel compelled to share some with you! Here is something that  I find quite striking:  at least fifteen buildings on the RPI campus were designed by alumni or their firms. I wonder if any other university can make such a boast? Joseph M. Lawlor gets the prize for "most favored" architect.  P.C. Ricketts established a relationship with Lawlor and Haase beginning with the construction of Russell Sage Laboratory in 1908. They completed eight more projects, including the entire Quadrangle Dormitory complex. Their last building was, fittingly, the Ricketts Building.

Click on the name of the building to learn more.

Joseph M. Lawlor, Class of 1888

W. G. Wilkins, Class of 1879 - Pittsburgh Building

Frederick M. Cummings, Class of 1886 - Troy Building

Peter Levatich, Class of 1955 - Jonsson Engineering Center

Stephen Voorhees, Hon. D. Eng. 1939 - Science Center

Al Krause, Class of 1952 - Folsom Library

Peter Bohlin, Class of 1958 - Biotech Center

In addition to this list, Charles Blitman, Class of 1914 and Howard Blitman, Class of 1950 were part of the general contracting firm that built the Freshmen Dormitories.  If you know of any others, please share.


Ted Weidner
Mon, 07/27/2009 - 22:19 Permalink

The RPI Playhouse was renovated in 1982/3 by Peter Bohlin and an associate pre-1974 class. The structural engineer on the Playhouse renovation was Tom Barone '77 who worked for Ryan-Biggs '72.

The Quad was renovated by Steve Krause '84 of QPK in 1987/8, while working at his father's firm which he seems to have inherited.

The building that houses Campus Police between the Union and the Armory was designed by Prof. Kroner and exhibited many of the passive solar architecture features we were being taught in the mid-70's (makes the Sustainability efforts now look like old hat to those RPI Architecture students.

The mechanical engineer for the Low Center was an RPI grad, I forget his name now; check the record drawings at Campus Planning.

Jon Jackson '74 designed the Biotech Center with Peter Bohlin.

Ryan-Biggs have done a lot of structural engineering work at RPI including renovations, facade repairs to Sage Dining Hall, the fire exit at the Ricketts Building, and others.

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 12:11 Permalink

Ted - thanks for these details! Good stuff!

Jennifer Saxton
Fri, 03/19/2010 - 21:26 Permalink

Amy, I was playing around on google doing searches of ancestors when I stumbled across this. Joseph Lawlor is my great-grandfather. I have his first sketchbooks from when he studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and must have walked the streets drawing every building he found interesting. I knew he went to RPI and had been told that he designed a building there, but this is such incredible information. I know my mother and aunt will be thrilled to see this. I've never seen that photo before either. My mother has a box of documents from his work in architecture that we'll have to resurrect. Thank you for this--can't wait to share with my family!

In reply to by egglel

Mon, 03/22/2010 - 13:54 Permalink

Jennifer, I'm glad you found the site and that the information was helpful. As you can see, your great-grandfather has left quite a legacy here at RPI.

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