Sunday, February 14, 2010



Alfred University Campus

Alfred, NY 14802

The Steinheim which was constructed in 1875, was made of more than 8,000 kinds of rock collected from ice age debris, all from within three miles of campus. The interior of the building is finished primarily in native wood from local forests. More than 800 kinds of wood can be found in the Steinheim. Stone was used because there was plenty of it and it was found in abundance around the area. (

It has always appeared as a castle tower. Its function has changed, but the physical appearance of Steinheim has remained more or less stagnant.

The Steinheim was originally intended to be the private residence of Professor Ida Kenyon, who wanted to produce the architecture of a castle in her native Germany. Running out of funds before her home could be completed the Steinheim then was purchased by former Alfred University’s president Jonathan Allen. Once purchased the Steinheim was meant to hold artifacts that fascinated Allen. The building ceased being used as a museum in the early 1950s, was used as classroom space, and now houses the university's Career Development Center.

Identity Formation---It was designed in the shape of a castle not out of social ritual but rather to form an identity for the University, whose team name is the Saxons.

The Steinheim was first marketed as a museum. In 1973, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After the 1950’s Steinheim served Alfred in more of an academic function. This academic function is that of career services which guides students of Alfred towards advancing and developing their desired career choices.

Since the Steinheim is constructed mainly of stone and wood the structure was mainly made by hand and the use of patience was needed as well for construction. Masonry skills, tools and techniques as well as carpentry skills, tools and techniques were needed to construct the Steinheim.

The Steinheim is a trademark of Alfred University. The structure is immediately recognizable and appreciated by students. This structure is entirely original and unique.

I think the goal of Allen was to create a structure for the purposes of viewer appreciation for the specialness of Alfred and for things such as minerals and man-made curiosities. Now, as the career center, Steinheim improves us by guiding students to achieve excellence, purpose and direction.

There were no competing projects at the time in Alfred, New York that threatened Steinheim in any manner. Steinheim was built in its own time frame and under the fullest desires and intents of its creator, the

Due to how stone was so in abundance it is sustainable and did not use up a great quantity of natural resources. In this way, Steinheim is a responsible design. There are other companies that use fossil fuels or natural resources at a rate greater than that which they are in abundance; however Steinheim is not representative of that. In fact, Steinheim was developed for the purposes of appreciating artifacts to a greater extent. The notion that its creator would have made it in an irresponsible manner would be absurd when you consider this.

While Steinheim is practical in its present day use, was it as practical years ago? Was the structure spacious enough to support its earlier ambitions? My guess would be that it is. Would the structure of Steinheim seem more bizarre in an urban setting such as Rochester or New York City where modern and aesthetic design is considered to be more ideal? Could Steinheim work if it were constructed in these alternate settings?

1 comment:

  1. More info. and details

    The Steinheim sometimes referred to as the “Castle” due to its appearance, was constructed in 1975 based on the architecture of a castle in Germany. The Steinheim was used for many different functions over the years. It was intended to be the private residence of Professor Ida Kenyon but funds ran out before completion of the residence. The building was then purchased by Jonathan Allen (former AU president). Allen used the building to hold artifacts and collections. The museum was closed in the early 1950’s and the museum’s collections and contents were dispersed leaving behind only a few examples of pieces from collections which now remain in the AU Archives. One of the most interesting examples is the “Foreign Shoe Collection”. After the closure of the museum the building was used as a classroom then as we know it today as the CDC (Career Development Center for Alfred University). The Steinheim was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Important figures associated with the Steinheim include Idk Kenyon and Jonathan Allen.