May 28, 2003
FOR NEW CAMPUS CENTER
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College has received a challenge grant of $1 million from The Kresge Foundation in support of the college's first campus center. To receive the grant, Smith must raise $7 million by March 1, 2004.
"The need for a campus center
at Smith has been the subject of student, alumnae and administrative
conversation for more than two decades," noted Smith president
"We are delighted that The Kresge Foundation shares our vision for a landmark facility that has the potential to bring our campus and our wider community together in exciting and creative new ways."
Designed by New York architects Weiss/Manfredi, the $23-million campus center is intended to serve as a centrally located area for meetings and informal gatherings as well as a place to greet off-campus visitors, whether friends, family or community members. Ground was broken on the 60,000-square-foot facility in March 2002; it is scheduled to open this fall, in time for the start of the 2003-04 academic year.
"This promises to be much more than a building. It sits at the crossroads of the campus and has the potential to significantly improve the quality of campus life," Christ affirmed.
Throughout the history of the college, Smith students have enjoyed a unique residential system. Students live in 35 self-governing houses, most with their own kitchens and dining rooms. The houses range in size from 12 to more than 100 residents.
While the opportunity to live in distinctive residences continues to draw many students to the college, the need has long been recognized for a central gathering spot that will facilitate interaction among students from across the campus. The campus center is designed to unite the student body, create social space for students and their guests, offer dining alternatives with expanded hours and provide a "front door" to the campus with a central information center.
In addition, the college sees the center as an important ingredient in facilitating its commitment to diversity.
"We believe the campus center will be not only a place for fun and relaxation but also a forum for public debate and critical discourse, a point of intersection between students' residential lives and academic lives," explained Maureen Mahoney, dean of the college, who chaired the campus center programming committee.
Located on Elm Street, adjacent to the historic John M. Greene Hall, the center is constructed of vertical wood siding and dramatic expanses of glass and designed as an en route passage through the campus. Various interconnecting paths challenge the boundary between inside and outside, converging into a long, curved, sky-lit gallery that forms the heart of the design. The gallery level includes lounges, exhibition spaces and a café overlooking an interior campus lawn. The two-story main lounge overlooks Smith's Paradise Pond as well as the college's renowned Botanic Garden. The upper level contains performance and meeting spaces, as well as offices for student organizations. The lower level includes the bookstore and mailroom as well as a music lounge serving light fare and beverages. The building will accommodate dances, readings, concerts, conferences and other events for as many as 500 people.
The campus center is one of several capital initiatives in the college's $425-million comprehensive fundraising campaign, which began in July 1997 and is scheduled to end in December 2004. A number of generous individual gifts have been received for the campus center project, including $2.35 million from celebrated cookbook author and television chef Julia Child, who graduated from Smith in 1934.
The Kresge Foundation, an independent, private foundation, was created in 1924 by Sebastian S. Kresge "to promote the well-being of mankind." It supports a range of organizations reflecting almost the entire breadth of the nonprofit sector. Grants are made toward projects involving construction or renovation of facilities and the purchase of major capital equipment or real estate.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country.