SMITH COLLEGE, BROWN FINE ARTS CENTER | Northampton, MA | 165,000 GSF
2003| Susan T. Rodriguez (Design Partner Ennead Architects, formerly Polshek Partnership)
The Brown Fine Arts Center celebrates and visually redefines the arts at Smith College and creates an elegant new campus gateway. The design transforms the original ensemble of 1970s buildings for the Museum of Art, the Art Department and the Art Library into one expanded and reconfigured center. In the state-of-the-art facility, an enclosed forty-foot-high skylit atrium replaces what was once a wind-swept exterior courtyard. This new interior volume unites the three primary programmatic components of the buildings and creates a place for interchange among students, faculty, museum staff and visitors. The renovation stripped the original complex down to its steel girders and then rebuilt it entirely, ultimately expanding the facility by 38,000 gross square feet. The new Center includes galleries, studios, library reading rooms, imaging center, stacks, a 120-seat auditorium, art storage facilities, café, museum store and classrooms. The design takes cues in form and material from the architectural context of Northampton. The building’s primary materials – brick, zinc, glass and metal – reinforce connections to the texture and quality of the surrounding historic context. The design depends on a dynamic visual balance between the transparency and reflectivity of glass and the opacity of brick. Articulated planar brick walls in combination with large expanses of glass shaded by an aluminum sunscreen define the overall mass of the building. Selected to match College Hall, the brick is laid in a rich variety of textural patterns and envelopes the entire building. Linear recesses and projections animate the wall surface. A vertical zinc stair tower marks each entry, punctuating the arrival sequence..
Awards | AIA New England, Honor Award, 2003, Brick in Architecture Award, 2003; Northampton Historic Commission Preservation Award for Excellence the Built Environment, 2003
Photo Credit | Jeff Goldberg / Esto, John Lowery, Susan Rodriguez
SMITH COLLEGE, BROWN FINE ARTS CENTER
Transforming a campus arts center