He envisioned a campus where conservatory training in the visual and performing arts would reside alongside programs in the liberal arts and sciences, based on the principle that arts and scholarship are indispensable to each other and to an enlightened society.

The City Within the Country

The choice of 500 acres of rural land was initially contested and the location criticized for its liminal proximity to New York City. But Rockefeller was intent on creating a landmark campus, and invited the creative muscle to bring his dreams to fruition.

Rockefeller enlisted renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, whose master plan for the campus was loosely based on Thomas Jefferson’s for the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Barnes clustered the buildings in a village center surrounded by the vast open space he left preserved. He brought together  a team of the era’s leading architects to design the individual buildings and chose the ubiquitous brown brick as a means to unify the disparate designs of Philip Johnson and John Burgee; Venturi and Rauch; Paul Rudolph; Gunnar Birkerts; Norman C. Fletcher; and Gwathmey, Henderson, and Siegel.