Envisioning the campus landscape

Image courtesy of RIT Archive Collections

Our cover story details how the RIT campus continues to evolve with the construction of the new Global Village complex. As we reminisce about how our campus has developed throughout the decades, we can’t help but remember one of the earliest photographs referencing campus development. This image depicts Arthur Stern, chairman of the Board of Trustees, left, and Mark Ellingson, president of RIT, studying a model of the new Henrietta campus in early 1964. The layout of campus closely resembles the final campus plan, with the academic center at one end and the residence halls at the other, as well as the shape and location of the major buildings. But further scrutiny reveals some major and minor differences. Most of the academic buildings look vaguely familiar but have yet to reach their final form. Note the student center and administrative building have yet to take on their distinctive triangular shapes that eventually set them apart from the rest of the buildings. The building in the lower right was to house a contemplated College of Health Sciences, which was never established. In 1961, RIT decided to relocate from its city campus to suburban Henrietta. The student population had doubled during the previous decade, and the academic facilities were pushed beyond capacity, dormitory space was severely limited and parking was difficult. There were few adjacent spaces to expand the downtown location, and the final straw came when the New York State Highway Commission planned to route the Inner Loop through the middle of the campus. The body language and facial expressions of the two men seems to portray their optimism and excitement, with Mark Ellingson’s hand blurred in mid gesture. By 1968, in just four years, the campus would be ready for the first class of students. Information provided by Rebecca Simmons, RIT archivist