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News Release

October 6, 2003

Dramatic New Campus Center Celebrates Smith's Vibrant Community

Oct. 24 Dedication to Mark New Chapter in Campus Life at the College

Editor's note: Professional photographs of the Smith College Campus Center are available. To arrange interviews with Smith officials or with the architects, contact Laurie Fenlason at (413) 585-2190 or

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College's campus guide shows 44 student residences and 63 academic and administrative buildings.

The map's newest addition resembles none of them in appearance. In purpose, though, it unites them all.

The Smith College Campus Center, a dramatically contemporary 56,000-square-foot glass and steel facility, incorporating a café, bookstore, mailroom, performance space, fireplace lounge and meeting rooms, is the campus's first building designed expressly as a common gathering space for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Located at the intersection of the college and its town, the center invites the community to gather, exchange ideas, relax and enjoy activities ranging from late-night coffee and jazz concerts to pool and Monopoly marathons.

"Like many colleges today, Smith can be an intense and engaged place," explained Dean of the College Maureen Mahoney, "with high expectations inside the classroom and beyond.

"Except for the houses, there have been few places where students could meet, talk, eat with other students or visitors, or watch TV together -- and just be casual and comfortable."

Describing the center as a signature building for the campus, Mahoney noted that its open plan, extensive natural light, engaging views and vibrantly colored furnishings -- some designed by the architects -- are integral to its purpose.

The building, she emphasized, "is about openness, interaction, relaxation -- and fun."
Designed by the New York architectural firm of Weiss/Manfredi, the three-story, $23-million center features a light-infused central atrium that forms a sinuous curve from Northampton's Elm Street, splitting into two expansive walls of glass that face a sweeping lawn at the center of the campus. Meandering walkways through the building -- as well as a broad, gentle terrace -- challenge the boundary between indoors and outdoors and create numerous opportunities for casual conversation and informal meetings.

Since its "quiet" opening on August 25, the center has already become a natural and popular focal point, with activity beginning early in the morning and extending well past midnight. The center's director, Dawn Mays-Floyd, notes that more than 700 functions have already been scheduled in the building's various spaces for this year alone. Events range from concerts, dances and parties to lectures and films, as well as regular meetings of Smith's 150-plus student organizations. The entire building provides wireless Internet access and features distinctive custom furnishings designed for flexible configurations.

The public is invited to the center's formal dedication and open house, which will take place at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24.

Present at the ceremony will be special guests Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, architects, whose other noted projects include the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park; Northampton Mayor Mary Clare Higgins; donors to the project; and former Smith President Ruth J. Simmons, whose leadership is recognized in a quote inscribed in the center's steps. Smith President Carol T. Christ, board chair Mary Patterson McPherson and student government president Elizabeth Liedel will cut the ribbon, marking the symbolic opening of the building.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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