Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Student Union

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Institution Name: Mills College
Original/Historic Place Name: Alumnae Hall
Location on Campus: 5000 MacArthur Blvd.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1916original construction Morgan, Julia
1931additions Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: none specified
Walls: redwood (interior)
Roof: none specified
1916-1931alumni center
1931-present (2007)other (café)
1931-present (2007)student union

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Designed in 1916 by Julia Morgan, the Student Union originally was part of a U-shaped complex that included a gymnasium, an outdoor pool, and an Alumnae Hall/Student Union, some of which are no longer extant. Student government additions were constructed in 1931. What remains today of this complex houses student government offices and also two student lounges: Percis Coleman and Mary Atkins for undergraduate and commuting students respectively. The hall has a single-story high gable, with a clay tiled roof designed in an unusual confluence of the Tuscan revival, Beaux-Arts classicism, and vernacular architecture. On the main facade, two Doric columns articulate a triple-bay porch. The central entry into the building is made possible through two doorways, placed on either side of the central axis of the building. A raised porch and another entrance are located at the gable end facing Toyon Meadow. Embedded in the pediment is a large brick chimney that breaks through the roofline. The outside of the structure is rusticated stucco. Short wooden members protrude from the porch giving a templar-like, Etruscan appearance.

On the interior, two large rectangular rooms are located east of the main space. These rooms have multi-paned windows that once overlooked a swimming pool that has since been made into a courtyard. The interiors, much like that of the Bender Room in Carnegie Hall, are predominantly made of redwood, with beamed ceilings that expose the structure of the roof and incised wall paneling. In one room, a five-foot tall, walk-in fireplace and hearth provide a central gathering place. Custom-made lights of Morgan's design hang from the ceiling. Three sets of double doors provide egress to the west, leading to a small garden with a statue.

Adjacent to the student union is a Doric colonnade, which has since been renovated with cast concrete columns and a wooden trellis to support full-growth wisteria.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Landscape Heritage Master Plan. Getty Foundation Campus Heritage Initiative, forthcoming September 2007.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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Last update: November 2006