Occidental College

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Eagle Rock, CA
United States
Occidental College

Founded in 1887, this private liberal arts college moved from Highland Park to 120 acres in Eagle Rock around 1912, on a site nestled in a valley below the San Rafael Hills north of downtown. Architect Myron Hunt created a Beaux Arts, cross-axial master plan centered on an open quadrangle located halfway up a dominant rise. Sports fields and a hillside amphitheater were sited in a more picturesque arrangement on the campus periphery. As campus architect until 1940, Hunt designed 21 buildings in a Mediterranean Revival-style with tiled roofs, archways and covered walks.

In 1936, the central quad was converted into a pedestrian zone by landscape gardener Beatrix Farrand. Four long terraces were sliced across the slope, buttressed by low retaining walls with round-edged, concrete stairs. The quad’s paved walks cut through open lawn shaded by mature live oaks (now holly oaks). A second quadrangle, the Student Quad, was created from a grassy slope supported by a retaining wall. Around Thorne Hall Farrand positioned steps, walls, and ramps and planted four mature olive trees in the flagstone-paved forecourt, agaves on the eastern elevation, and white wisteria along the rear wall. While consulting on the 1938 campus master plan, Farrand selected the site for Haines Hall, set dramatically back on a steep slope.

Although the campus expansion continued after World War II, the core of Hunt’s plan remains intact. From 1978 to 1992, Howard Troller served as campus landscape architect through his firm Howard E. Troller & Associates, integrating new buildings and landscapes and improving existing landscapes in other areas.