Introduction to Master Planning at Brandeis University

Students studying by the wishing well, 1950s

Brandeis Campus, 1950s

Students are studying near the old grape arbor, wishing well, and "Banana House" (named for its crescent shape and yellow and green color), which housed the first bookstore and student newspaper offices. This is the site where the science complex is now located.

The property that Brandeis acquired from Middlesex University in 1946 was a rural landscape dotted with several small and oddly-shaped buildings. The inheritance included several structures from an old farm, and others from the ill-fated Middlesex medical school. When visiting today's campus, it is hard to imagine the farmland and wild marshes that once covered this bustling, urban-like campus only 50 years ago.

Two men looking at Brandeis Plans. The man on the left holds a very large piece of paper with the map of Brandeis in one hand, and his other hand holds a pencil which he is pointing at a spot on the map. Brandeis Plans, ca. 1950.

Early Brandeis administrators placed great emphasis on master planning and sought out renowned architects to design the campus. Over time, new plans were superimposed on older ones, and building growth exploded. Nevertheless, Brandeis still maintains its character as a Modernist campus scaled to compliment the rich New England environment. It is also a unique example of campus design, having been planned and built later than most universities in the country.