Project Overview

William & Mary

Williamsburg, VA

Located on the Coastal Upland of the Virginia Coastal Plain, the College of William & Mary is a campus shaped by the landscape that it inhabits.  Working on individual projects and the Campus Master Plan, Core Studio Design has strived to merge current and future efforts with both the natural and built surroundings.

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Located on the coastal upland of the Virginia coastal plain, William & Mary is a campus shaped by the landscape that it inhabits. The college is located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed between the James and the York Rivers. The functionality of the landscape at William & Mary is largely a response to this campus geology. On the campus core, building sites and athletic fields have been located on the high plain areas. Crevasses and ravines formed by the network of campus streams are less readily useable and, in large part, have not been developed. The campus experience is influenced by these patterns of topography, along with site circulation, building scale and location, planting, lighting, and site furnishings. Together, these elements contribute to the sense of place that evokes the feeling of community so essential to the success of the campus environment.


Working on individual projects and the Campus Master Plan, Core Studio Design has strived to merge current and future efforts with both the natural and built surroundings.

The Campus Master Plan’s guiding principles focus on a number of landscape priorities. These include: retaining the pedestrian character of the campus; increasing athletic and recreation space; moving parking to the perimeter; preserving open space; creating an accessible campus; and preserving the human scale. The plan identifies initiatives that will encourage the development of open space as an integral part of all future projects at William & Mary.

These initiatives include: the reorganization of existing open spaces, more clearly defining the character of each space as it contributes to the overall campus fabric; preserving the natural topography of the campus and increasing storm water control on-site, while still accommodating a variety of uses; and, the incorporation of the campus’s natural surroundings as potential outdoor learning space.

Integrated Science Center 4 creates one edge of Swem Quad. Overall, the ISC4 project enables the vision for a connected open space initiative, an integral part of all future projects for William & Mary as articulated in the Master Plan. Major elements of the ISC4 landscape include the Swem Quad terrace, the hidden garden and the lower terrace, The building opens at the lower level creating a link to the central campus to the north. This reshaping of the topography provides the opportunity to reconfigure the main path from the south campus to the central campus into an accessible route. The building’s U-shape provides a quiet refuge and hidden garden. The front entry on Swem Quad connects the building with its formal setting.

The Fine and Performing Arts Center is adjacent to the College’s Swem Quad near Andrews Hall and Memorial Hall. Arrival to the arts complex is marked by a broad landscape gesture that defines and unifies the various entrance experiences at each building. The art corridors between the buildings have spaces along their length for habitation. Inter-building circulation is emphasized with paving gestures that connect the buildings across these corridors.

The Swem Library Terrace provides Swem Library an outdoor gathering space directly connected to Swem Quad. The terrace is designed to accomodate different groups and individuals with loose tables and chairs and a fountain as a focal point. With its implimentation, activities in the library will have a broader reach both figuratively and actually.

The New Fraternity Housing and Community Building project is strung along Ukrop Way at the center of campus to create a unified street front for all of the houses. The site design along the street strengthened the existing road / walkway / tree edge. The house setback was determined on the north pert of the site by existing mature canopy trees. The houses have shrub borders facing the street at their porches, but otherwise the planting is designed to blend into the surrounding landscape.

At the back of the houses, existing grades create a distinct setting that can be shared by all. At the north, the significant grade is captured by a wave of grasses that move down through the woodland. To the south, the site’s lawn is gathered by a crescent path edged with trees and shrubs to create an informal recreation area. The plant palette is drawn from the landscape of the college.

Existing willow oaks are reinforced to create an allee along the street. Hardwoods, evergreens and flowering understory trees are added to the existing woodland of loblolly pines and oaks. Shrubs punctuate the new buildings and landscape edges. Beyond the plant palette, sustainable initiatives are incorporated throughout the LEED silver project. Stormwater is managed on site. The proposed landscape design follows William & Mary standards including paths, campus furnishings, lighting and plantings.

The landscape design and planning was performed by Core Studio Design in conjunction with Goody Clancy Architects, Moseley Architects, HGA, Treanor Architects and Cannon Design.


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