Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Blanche Walker Burpee Center

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Institution Name: Rockford College
Original/Historic Place Name: Blanche Walker Burpee Center
Location on Campus: 5050 E. State St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1962-1964original construction Perkins + Will
1969-1970addition Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: cement
Walls: brick
Roof: none specified
ca. 1964-present (2007)other (reception and meeting rooms; Roper Lounge, Regents Hall, and Forrest Cool Lounge)
ca. 1964-present (2007)student union (meeting spaces and student lounge)
ca. 1980-present (2007)administration (president's and staff offices, vice president for advancement, recently student services)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (bookstore)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement)
ca. 2004-present (2007)dining hall

Significance: architecture
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Burpee Center was designed to provide meeting spaces for the life of the college community. The 3rd floor was originally a student center. Shortly after the building was completed, an addition was constructed which houses Grace Roper Lounge (1st level) and Regents Hall (2nd level).

Today, the college center provides a natural focus point for the college community's life.
Burpee Center provides meeting spaces, the cafeteria, the book store, administrative offices, student services. and the Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement. The 3rd floor was divided up in the early 1980s and now accommodates the president's office and staff, the vice president for advancement, and Forrest Cool Lounge. The Student Lounge is now on the 2nd floor. There is a Jane Addams Society wall of donors on the 1st floor.

The Regents Hall and Grace Roper Lounge are frequently used by the campus as well as by the extended community. Wedding receptions are held in Regents Hall. Community groups, such as the Golden Apple Foundation and the American Association of University Women, often hold their events in the Grace Roper Lounge and/or Regents Hall.

Burpee Center is arranged to foster an association between the college and its alumni and friends by providing gathering spaces. These spaces and the centers (JACCE and the Mary Ashby Cheek Center) support mutual understanding and respect between the college and the community of Rockford. Furthermore, it is through community collaboration and the work of these centers that we fulfill our mission, to be Jane Addams' college in the 21st century.

Blanche Walker Burpee Center was designed according to the philosophy of Perkins and Will, in that its form is a response to the indoor and outdoor setting, relating each to the other. Accordingly, many rooms and lounges are graced with windows that extend the length of the wall, giving one the impression of being outside while inside. Regents Hall, Forrest Cool Lounge, and the cafeteria have particularly high ceilings, adding to the effect. The color scheme of the building is muted earth tones, including the fireplace in Forrest Cool Lounge, which is constructed of copper.

I. Bibliographic sources:

None specified.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections

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