Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Old Y. W. C. A. Building

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Institution Name: Willamette University
Original/Historic Place Name: Salem Y. W. C. A.
Location on Campus: State St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1946-1952original construction Belluschi, Pietro
n.d.remodelled; to meet ADA requirements Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: concrete; brick (facing); metal (window sashes)
Roof: none specified
1952-2005other (YWCA)
2005-present (2007)other (university storage, with future uses undetermined)

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Old Y. W. C. A. Building was designed by noted Portland architect, Pietro Belluschi, and together with Belluschi's other structures on the Willamette University campus (University Library and Collins Hall), it provides an object lesson in the differences in American architectural design just prior to and just after World War II. The sleek modern building is minimalist to the extreme as compared to its earlier counterparts, avoiding all historic reference. The main facade on State Street is a distinctive flat expanse of brick with an inset wall of glass that provides a screen for the interior lobby. The original building offered a high degree of geometic clarity, much of which was impaired by later remodeling that included a ramp built to meet ADA requirements.

The building has seen heavy public use as the Salem Y. W. C. A. for more than half a century. It is structurally sound but in need of renovation and restoration.

I. Bibliographic sources:

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

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

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