Posted: November 17, 2006
Big changes are coming to the south side of campus. Construction has begun on a new residence hall on the site between Pratt Hall and Morgan Street on the southern edge of campus. At a meeting the weekend of October 27-28, the College's board of trustees approved proceeding with the construction of the new dorm, which is scheduled to open in fall 2008.
"We're delighted to have trustee approval to move ahead with the new residence hall project," said Mary Jo Maydew, vice president for finance and administration. "This will be a stunning addition to the campus architecture and will provide several important benefits--additional space for a very crowded residential program, swing space to begin badly needed renovations to existing residence halls, and more variety in living arrangements for students."
Fundraising for the residence hall is a key component of the College's recently launched Campaign for Mount Holyoke. Fifteen million dollars of the building's $30 million total will come from gifts raised for the project as part of the $300 million Campaign. "This college is very fortunate to have alumnae who remain connected to the institution and who recognize and understand its needs, particularly for a new residence hall," said Leslie Anne Miller '73, chair of the board of trustees and Campaign cochair. "Our cadre of loyal volunteers will work with staff over the next five years to raise the necessary funds for this campaign priority."
S/L/A/M Collaborative, a 160-person architectural firm with offices in Boston, Atlanta, and Glastonbury, Connecticut, designed the building, which will house 176 students in a variety of singles, doubles, and suites consisting of multiple single or double rooms. The residence hall will consist of two main units, a vertical "house" and a horizontal "house." Within those two major groupings will be clusters of approximately 33 students. Students' private living spaces in these clusters will be in close proximity to various common areas. The building is designed so that students will be able to see into common spaces without entering them. "The residence hall fosters a sense of community while maximizing options for the students," said S/L/A/M architect Douglas Disbrow.
The new residence hall was designed to be a harmonious extension of the "order and meaning" that characterizes the rest of the campus, according to Disbrow. A brick-and-stone construction, the new building will echo the materials and lines of its neighbor, Pratt Hall. "We sought to replicate the wonderful, lyrical relationship between the buildings and landscape," Disbrow said. This was a challenge, he admitted, given the small, sloping site overlooking Stony Brook on the edge of campus, but the design scheme succeeds in settling the new structure into the space in "a natural, organic way" and at the same time "signaling an important gateway" for the southeast corner of the campus.
Finally, the new building is on track to be LEED (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be the third LEED-certified project on campus, along with Blanchard Campus Center and Kendade Hall. "Mount Holyoke has a longstanding commitment to stewardship of the environment," said John Bryant, director of facilities planning and management. Some "green" features included in the building are the use of materials with a high recycled content, materials that are low in VOC's (volatile organic compounds emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids), and rapidly renewable natural materials such as bamboo and cork flooring. Energy conservation was also a major focus during design. Features include a digital energy-control system; high-performance windows and insulation; a solar-heated hot water system; and thermal recovery in the building's exhaust system. Energy usage within different parts of the building can be monitored so that students can compete to see which residence group consumes the least amount of energy. Bryant is proud to announce that the building will be 45 percent more energy efficient than required under an already very stringent Massachusetts building code.
Preliminary work for the new residence hall was completed this past summer, when utility lines for chilled water, domestic water, and fire protection water were extended to the site. Several weeks ago trees around the Pratt parking lot were cleared in preparation for construction. Strategic Building Solutions is the project manager for the facility; Barr and Barr, Inc. are the construction managers.