Space Reduction Proposal Presented at Campus Forum
Smith administrators recently presented a proposal for
reducing the college's use of space by 5 percent or 150,000 square feet, as included
in the $22 million budget
reduction plan adopted last year in the wake of the global financial crisis.
At the April 1 forum, Vice President for Finance and
Administration Ruth Constantine described the recommendations of the planning firm
Bruner/Cott of Cambridge, Mass., for buildings that Smith could consider releasing
either by selling, renting, leasing or demolishing.
Smith has 111 buildings – 45 of which are student
houses, including undergraduate, graduate and commuter housing.
The space-reduction initiative follows a number of reductions
already made by the college in positions, compensation, and programs, as well as
the implementation of a set of energy-saving measures.
The Bruner/Cott study focused on buildings at the periphery
of campus, evaluating them based primarily on location, but also considering their
condition and cost of renovation.
Among the buildings that the firm recommended the college
release are student houses: Parsons, Parsons Annex and the Friedman apartment complex,
all located between Henshaw Avenue and Round Hill Road; Dawes House on Bedford Terrace;
and 12 and 26 Bedford Terrace, both single-occupancy apartments for Ada Comstock
The report recommended the college replace Friedman
with new apartments and, consistent with recommendations from prior planning consultants,
locating new student housing at the end of Paradise Road where Mason Hall and Sunnyside
are currently located.
Other buildings recommended for release are: Garrison
Hall on West Street; Tilly Hall and The Gables, located between Henshaw Avenue and
Round Hill Road; and 27, 30 and 47 Belmont Ave.; and some buildings in the college’s
rental housing inventory. In addition, Bruner/Cott recommended releasing all or a
portion of the college’s Fort Hill property on South Street, not including
the Center for Early Childhood Education.
As the second phase of its work, Bruner/Cott is now
advising the college on how it might relocate the programs and functions in the affected
buildings over a period of years. That phase of planning is expected to be completed
by the end of April.
Students at the forum expressed frustration about the
elimination of the student houses and apartments. As in the past, when the college
has closed houses they are phased out over time. Students are allowed to remain in
their residences until graduation.
“A reduction in student housing isn’t something
we do lightly,” said Maureen Mahoney, dean of the college. “We know that
these are homes that hold the memories of students and alumnae.”
Smith remains committed to offering a range of housing
options, including apartments, suites, singles, doubles, and language-themed clusters,
The proposal to reduce student housing was considered in light of the plan to stabilize
the entering classes of traditional-aged students at 640. In the past, class sizes
Constantine emphasized that space reduction “isn’t
going to happen overnight.” Each building presents a its own set of opportunities
and challenges, and the real estate market will, to some degree, dictate the pace
at which buildings are released.
Over time, when the selected reductions are completed,
savings on maintenance expenses is expected to be about $1 million, with additional
savings realized in utility expenses.