A tiered pathway to connect middle and upper campus.

This major landscape and infrastructure project is designed to better connect the upper and middle areas of campus at Colgate University. This project will dramatically transform the wooded hillside area between Dana Arts Center and Frank Dining Hall, improve campus pedestrian circulation from Case-Geyer Library to Dana, and create a new plaza on the upper campus.

Acclaimed landscape architects at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) are responsible for the Glen’s landscape design. MVVA is renowned for prominent design projects including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Harvard Yard, and the grounds of the presidential libraries of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The Vision

The existing hillside will be transformed into a native landscape where water will cascade over natural stone into stepped pools alongside new pathways. There will be new spaces for gathering and a completely redesigned upper-campus plaza next to Frank Dining Hall that will drastically improve the pedestrian experience. 


  • New heated concrete stair system, pathways, and site lighting will connect the middle and upper campus through a wooded gully located between Ryan Studio/Dana Arts and the traffic circle below Frank Dining Hall. 
  • Stormwater runoff will be captured by a series of stone cascades and ephemeral pools during light rain events. A larger, closed conveyance system with capacity for heavy rain events will mitigate flooding and water quality issues.  
  • A lower stormwater basin will be an attractive landscape feature that will include stepped boulder seat walls. 
  • The Frank Dining Hall traffic circle will become a new upper plaza for improved pedestrian safety, ease of access, and a greater natural connection with the surrounding landscape. The plaza will feature stone pavers, boulder seat walls, new site lighting, and tree and understory plantings. 
  • A new lower plaza with pavers at the south side of Ryan Studio will connect the project to the new Bernstein Hall, both physically and in shared materials. 
  • A portion of the project funds will provide the opportunity to bury unsightly utility lines along Broad Street in preparation for future construction plans on the lower campus.
  • A new middle-campus pathway will create an accessible pedestrian spine from the back side of Little Hall to Dana Arts Center/Curtis stairs. Work includes the cutting back of the hillside behind Little Hall with a series of stone and oak terraces to open up views between Peter's Glen and points north towards Case Library. 

Work Ahead

  • Initial site work begins in 2024, and will necessitate the clearing of non-native and declining trees, shrubs, and overgrowth on the hillside to prepare for major excavation and earth moving.
  • A planting of nearly 500 native trees and 500 native shrubs and plants will take place over several growing seasons.
  • Heated stairs will create a path down the hill beside a cascading stream shaded by a natural tree canopy.
  • Plazas at the top and bottom of the walkway will provide areas for relaxation, study, and gathering.
  • In addition to the work on the Glen, Colgate’s main entrance on Oak Drive will be updated with new trees and plantings to complement the overall campus landscape vision and will create a clear connection to the walkway leading toward Peter’s Glen.
  • Construction is slated for completion in 2025.

While the walk down Peter’s Glen allows long views into the valley, there also will be a sense — with the trees around you, as you go down the stairs — of being held there.”

Michael Van Valkenburgh, MVVA Partner