Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Smullin Hall

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Institution Name: Willamette University
Original/Historic Place Name: University Library
Location on Campus: 900 State St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1937-1938original construction Belluschi, Pietro
ca. 1980remodelling Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: concrete; brick (facing); wood (window frames; details)
Roof: slate
1938-ca. 1980library
ca. 1980-present (2007)administration
ca. 1980-present (2007)faculty offices
ca. 1980-present (2007)other (computer laboratories)
ca. 1980-present (2007)classrooms
ca. 1980-present (2007)academic department building

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Noted Portland architect, Pietro Belluschi, designed the northern portion of Smullin Hall as the university's main library. It is architecturally significant as an early example of Belluschi's work, where he embraced certain elements of modernism, a characteristic that would inform his later work more concertedly, as in his design for the Portland Art Museum. Perhaps in deference to Willamette University officials, Belluschi employed many Georgian revival elements: tall multi-paned, arched windows with over-scaled keystones, Palladian windows on the east and west facades, and a slate, hipped roof with cupola, all references to late eighteenth-century architecture at the College of William and Mary. Yoked with these traditional forms, Belluschi also used elements of modern design: geometic simplicity, a tight fit of roof to walls, and poured concrete wall construction faced with brick. It thus offers a surprisingly early and unusual combination of stylized historic references with streamlined modernity. The colonial revival vocabulary seen in Smullin Hall reflect the larger trend of interest in that period in American architecture.

The building is in excellent condition although architecturally compromised following a major renovation in ca. 1980. At that time, the two-story reading room was converted into two floors that then housed faculty and administrative offices, computer laboratories, and classrooms. On the exterior, the building retains its original design except for the relocation of the cupola.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Clausen, Meredith L. Pietro Belluschi, Modern American Architect. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994.

Gatke, Robert Moulton. Chronicles of Willamette, the Pioneer University of the West. Portland, OR: Binfords and Mort, 1943.

Stubblebine, Jo. The Northwest Architecture of Pietro Belluschi. New York: F. W. Dodge Corporation, 1953.

"Willamette University Library." Architectural Record (February 1941): 85

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

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