With their vast collections of buildings, it’s no wonder that universities are architectural gems. And though many are impressive, only some can be considered the prettiest college campuses in the United States. Many schools have beautiful elements—like immaculate dining halls, otherworldly dorms, or jaw-dropping libraries—but the schools on the following list stun across the board. Like a well-styled outfit, from the entry arches to academic halls and manicured lawns, everything on these grounds works in harmony to create a place as beautiful as it is educational. To that end, AD recently scoured the country to find the prettiest college campuses in the United States, taking into consideration both architectural legacy and setting.
What are beautiful university campuses?
The United States, in particular, has an immense collection of colleges with impressive dorms, academic facilities, and other stately structures. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, higher education institutions started to feature beautiful unified styles—oftentimes of the Collegiate Gothic movement, which drew from historic English buildings, but also the Federal, neoclassical, and even Romanesque movements. Campuses also had elegant landscape design, whether well-manicured quads or more natural woodland.
While most universities have gone on to include incredible modern builds by 20th-century starchitects (Eero Saarinen’s Ingalls Rink at Yale, anyone?), they’ve also worked hard to maintain their visual legacies. For this collection, AD looked for college campuses that have an aesthetic vision, whether that’s a unified look—like the Georgian-style buildings and structures found across Baylor University in Texas—or a well-thought-out mix of aesthetics—like the modernist marvels that perfectly balance out the the large number of collegiate-gothic style buildings at Yale University.
What college has the coolest campus?
Though all of these schools are beautiful, for a college campus to be considered the coolest, we think it has to transcend aesthetics alone. Perhaps the award should go to Mount Holyoke with its strong focus on sustainability. All new constructions on campus are built to meet LEED™ silver requirements, and older ones have been renovated where appropriate to conserve energy. However, a modernist devotee may push back and say Florida Southern College is the coolest—not just because of the 13 beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright–designed buildings on the ground, but because it’s the site with the highest volume of Wright structures in one place. All 53 schools on this list are AD-approved; read on to decide for yourself which campus should be crowned the coolest.
University of Hawaii at Mānoa (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Located right outside of downtown Honolulu within the lush Mānoa Valley, the University of Hawaii at Mānoa is the oldest of the schools within the University of Hawaii system. Though the campus has many beautiful buildings, its view of Diamond Head truly stands out.