A Constructive Summer
When students converged on the Smith campus in September, more than 200 of them took up residence in improved campus houses, thanks to an ambitious summer construction schedule crowded with housing renovation projects.
Most prominent among the summer renovations, if only for the drama of lifting and moving a 200-ton house some 100 yards north, was that of Wesley House. The residence, built in 1896 as a church rectory, accommodates 16 students during the year. In July, the building was jacked up and hoisted off its former foundation next to Park Annex, placed atop a massive platform on wheels -- resembling something out of Star Wars -- and rolled about 300 feet up-campus to its new foundation on the other side of Haven House. The former location of Wesley House, near John M. Greene Hall, will become part of the future plot of the Smith College campus center, which is slated for construction beginning next year.
In addition to its location change, Wesley had its exterior refurbished with new windows and paint, was reconfigured inside and received several upgrades to its mechanical systems.
Hopkins House, college home to 18 students, wasn't moved, but it received nearly as many renovations and upgrades as Wesley. Hopkins, now located next to Wesley, was built as a private residence in 1861 and is considered one of the college's significant historical buildings. Most notably, a porch was added to the building's south side, using some of the millwork saved from Hopkins A and B, which were razed last year. The house also received replacements to its slate and copper roof, an exterior rehabilitation and interior improvements similar to those in Wesley.
Tenney House, at the corner of Paradise Road and Elm Street, houses 14 students and received upgrades to its mechanical systems as well as exterior renovations.
Meanwhile, on the north edge of campus, Comstock and Wilder, two popular campus residences that together house 160 students in 87,000 square feet of living space, received complete renovations in two phases during the summer. The project, which totaled $11 million, replaced the air controlling, plumbing, electrical and safety systems; installed new lighting, finishes and furnishings; replaced windows and slate roofs and rebuilt chimneys and other exterior masonry.
The extensive list of housing renovations has made for an unusually busy summer construction schedule, explains Physical Plant Project Manager Gary Hartwell. Most summer schedules would include lesser renovations to only one or two houses, he says. "What you're seeing is the first year of a major bond issue." The renovations are part of a three-year capital construction program that will total $40 million.
In addition to housing renovations, the series of projects includes the construction of the college's new 352-space parking structure; a 4,000-square-foot, multipurpose classroom added onto Ainsworth Gym, which will include a climbing wall and space for fencing, yoga and other activities; and the renovation of the Dawes House Kosher Kitchen, which is used for numerous events throughout the year.
Elsewhere on campus, construction got under way on the Fine Arts Center's two-year, $35 million renovation and expansion project, which will add 30,000 square feet of space to the Museum of Art, art department and Hillyer Art Library. Also during the summer, a temporary, 10,000-square-foot building was completed behind Lawrence House, to house classroom and laboratory space for Smith's new Picker Engineering Program.
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