Photographs by Ralph Lieberman
One of the nation’s preeminent liberal arts institutions, Amherst College is endowed with an extraordinary sense of place. The hilltop campus, encircled by softly sculpted hills in almost every direction, exemplifies spare New England elegance. It presents an object lesson in how simple buildings and landscapes can be combined to form a whole much greater than the sum of its individual parts. Amherst’s foremost buildings range from the Greek Revival Johnson Chapel of 1827 and the Renaissance Revival Fayerweather Hall of 1894, to award-winning contemporary structures that reveal the college’s commitment to design excellence.
Six self-guided walks around campus illuminate 78 buildings, sculptures, and landscapes in more than one hundred photographs. In addition, the guide profiles such fascinating off-campus Amherst buildings as the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D. C. and Amherst House at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.
Readers will learn of the townspeople who gathered in 1820 to construct Amherst’s first building, South College; how poet Emily Dickinson’s grandfather secured a donation from a one-legged farmer in nearby Pelham to fund the iconic Johnson Chapel; and how, during the Great Depression, a trip to gather pine cones for fireplace kindling led to the creation of the college’s idyllic Wildlife Sanctuary.
Among Amherst’s distinguished designers are architects McKim, Mead & White; Benjamin Thompson; Edward Larabee Barnes Associates; and William Rawn Associates, together with landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted, Michael Van Valkenburgh, and Arthur Schurcliff.
Author Blair Kamin, Amherst alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune, offers a sparkling and singularly insightful view into the lore and treasures of this distinguished campus.
Photographer Ralph Lieberman, an architectural historian, brings the campus to life with spectacular photography. Lieberman, who has taught at Amherst and Williams, is also the photographer for Williams College: The Campus Guide and Gates of Harvard Yard, edited by Kamin.