Life of a Campus

campus map color-coded

Clark campus map, buildings color coded by age


During the 2011-2012 academic year, Wilson oversaw a multidisciplinary project with students called “The Life of a Campus: Clark Buildings Then and Now.” The project had three major components: a publication about the architectural history of Clark’s campus, featuring research by undergraduates in Wilson’s Special Topics art history seminar; an exhibition showcasing the art history research and creative work done by students in Studio Art and Screen Studies; and a concert featuring original musical compositions, written by students, inspired by the campus buildings. The entire project was a multidisciplinary celebration of the architectural riches on the Clark campus.


During the fall 2011 semester, nine students enrolled in Wilson’s course “Special Topics in Modern Art: Architecture on the Clark Campus.” During the course of the semester they dove into a variety of research projects, using the campus archives and personal interviews as their primary source material. They investigated all aspects of the campus, beginning with Clark’s iconic Jonas Clark Hall, continuing with its Gothic aspirations in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, and then tracing the expansion of the campus in the post-War decades with the esteemed buildings by The Architects’ Collaborative and John M. Johansen (you can hear Wilson’s interview with Johansen, July 2011, here); the final chapter of the campus – since the 1980s – has been marked by modest postmodernism and impressive “green” architecture. The students examined the chronology of the campus development, but were most engaged with the social effects of this architectural history: how have these buildings shaped student life on campus, and what do they say about Clark’s identity in Worcester? The excellent result of their research was a series of nine essays, published in the booklet entitled The Life of a Campus: 9 Essays About Clark Buildings Then and Now. You can read the pdf of the book here:


The exhibition opened on March 14, 2012. The opening event was a round table discussion that embodied the life of Clark’s campus buildings. It featured the esteemed John M. Johansen, architect of Goddard Library; the library, which opened in 1969, is a brutalist masterpiece that is the beating heart of the campus. The panel discussion also featured Steven M. Foote and Mark Freeman, architects of a major renovation to the library in 2009 which created the much-loved Academic Commons. You can watch the panel discussion by clicking on this photo:

Wilson and Johansen after K and Johansen
the conversation…





The exhibition was divided into three chapters: 1887-1940; the 1960s; and 1980-2012. The history of the campus, as documented in archival photographs and drawings, was presented in a series of large posters. You can see all of the posters, in a reduced format, in this photo gallery (click on any thumbnail to see the full poster):


For a higher resolution format of the exhibition posters, please click on each of these photos:

Chapter 1: Jonas Clark Hall and the Gothic campus





Chapter 2: Modernism

Chapter 3: Postmodernism and Green Architecture







Alison Meyer ’13 created a video documentary of students’ experiences with the buildings on campus. It is entitled “Clark Through Our Eyes,” and it was screened in the exhibition. It can be viewed here:

We’d like to thank Design Agency of Providence, RI (Jane Androski ’02 and Emily Wilson) for the superlative design of both the exhibition and book.


On March 20, 2012, a group of six composition students staged a concert featuring their original compositions, inspired by the campus buildings. Prof. Jonathan Blumhofer taught the composition seminar in which they created this work. The pieces – each between 3 and 10 minutes – were scored for clarinet, cello, marimba (vibraphone in this performance), and french horn.

Mike Tierney ’13 recorded the concert. Wilson introduced the concert, and you can here each piece by clicking on the composition titles below:

Home                                                                Mike Tierney ’13
As Our Paths Cross                                             Dan Gilbert ’12
Sheet Music                                                        Alex Minkoff ’12
Sanford in A-flat                                               Ashley Hames ’13
Estabrook Variations                         Jonathan Blumhofer,  Visiting Lecturer
They’re All Lost Friends                    Nathaniel Noton-Freeman ’12
The Future Lies Within                                      Andrew Shatz ’12

The performers for the concert were: Chester Brezniak, clarinet/bass clarinet; Nanette Foley, horn; Kara Greenfield, vibraphone; Maureen Kelly, cello.

We were grateful to Higgins School of Humanities at Clark and the Worcester Arts Council for their support. The Worcester Arts Council is a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.