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Campus Buildings Maintain Historical Ties

Though the recently expanded and improved Lyman Conservatory opened to the public only about a week ago, it has already scored a place on the list of Historic Preservation Awards given annually by the Northampton Historical Commission.

The Lyman Conservatory was one of two Smith construction projects honored by the commission. The Brown Fine Arts Center also made the list for its renovation and expansion.

The awards are granted to local construction and renovation projects that successfully complement the existing built structure. The commission presented the award to the administrators of 12 projects this year during a ceremony on May 14 at the Botanic Garden. President Carol T. Christ accepted the awards on behalf of Smith College.

Prior to its opening on May 9, Lyman Conservatory had undergone a two-year, $5 million renovation that modernized its 12 greenhouses, expanded classroom and lab space, added offices and a wheelchair lift, as well as exhibition space, including the Church Gallery just inside the building’s entrance. The conservatory, originally designed by Lord and Burnham (the builders of the Palm House in England’s Kew Gardens), has become an essential resource to the college community. It is an internationally acclaimed research and exhibiting facility, attracting some 60,000 visitors a year.

The renovation and expansion of the Brown Fine Arts Center—a two-year, $35 million project that expanded the complex by 28 percent—was designed by the New York City-based Polshek Partnership Architects with the intention of blending the building into its historically rich setting through varied materials that work in color and texture to present the façade as a series of visually appealing planes. The traditional brick used on the building’s exterior approximate the size and color of historic College Hall, the institution’s first building, next door.

The Brown Fine Arts Center opened to the public on April 27.

The Northampton Historical Commission is a mayoral-appointed group committed to preserving and complementing the city’s built environment. “The Commission is excited to publicly acknowledge these particular projects that have contributed so successfully to what will be our physical legacies to those who follow,” says the event program.

Other award winners include Sylvester’s Restaurant, a popular downtown establishment; 16 Main Street, which opened recently, following renovation, as Café Casablanca; and several private properties.

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