A community center with dining was the top recommendation in Mount Holyoke’s 2014 Facilities Master Plan Study. The project was undertaken as essential in order for the College to remain at the forefront of educational excellence in the 21st century.
The College worked with Bergmeyer Associates, Inc., a renowned architectural and interior design firm, and countless members of the Mount Holyoke community, reviewing existing physical space and formulating recommendations focused on building community on campus. The Community Center was designed within the context of Mount Holyoke’s institutional strategic plan, time-honored traditions, unique historical attributes and the need to address changing expectations of today’s students.
Mount Holyoke’s engaged and dynamic students are active at all times of the day and night. Continuous student interaction, whether face-to-face or online, accelerates the development of networks, facilitates friendships and the forming of groups, reinforces existing ties, and creates a sense not only of excitement but also of belonging. Time and space are used flexibly and students congregate according to motivation and opportunity. Entering Mount Holyoke means more than just enrolling in courses and pursuing a degree — it means participating in a vibrant community.
The Board of Trustees approved the proposed Community Center with dining project in February 2016. Construction began that summer, after Commencement and Reunion. The student life suite was completed in September 2017, and Weissman Student Commons in December 2017. The Dining Commons was opened to the community in January 2018. The coffee shop/pub on the ground floor of Blanchard Hall will be opened in fall 2018.
The accomplishments included:
- The renovation and renewal of three floors of Blanchard Hall.
- The addition of 34,000 square feet of dining space, with seating for close to 1,000 in a variety of private and open areas.
- Consolidation of the Division of Student Life in a centralized location.
- Creation of the Unity Space, a room dedicated to cultural understanding and civic engagement.
- Full ADA compliance.
- A coffee house/pub where food and drink facilitate social gatherings.
- The Weissman Student Commons, renovated space in Blanchard Hall that enhances visibility of student organizations with professional support to amplify their reach in the community.
The resulting complex is situated at the heart of the campus but with plural identities that is surrounded by the social spaces of residence halls and academic buildings. It provides social venues for small, medium and large-scale events, meeting places that create connections that are cross-generational, multidimensional and memorable, and the institutional infrastructure for intellectual and social community that foster confidence and leadership.