by Marc Margulies
With the ever-increasing demand for career-oriented education on today’s college campuses, Mount Ida College, a small private college in Newton, Mass., needed to ensure that its facilities matched the excellence of its faculty and academic programs. Mount Ida College blends career-relevant education with broad-based learning in the arts, sciences and humanities to prepare students to succeed in a changing world. Since 2014, the school’s campus renovation and construction projects have focused on creating more comfortable and functional living and learning spaces for both residential and commuter students, upgrading campus amenities, and renewing its historic buildings for a new age.
As part of its Vision 2020 strategic planning initiative, Mount Ida College engaged Boston-based Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA) to invigorate its campus with new laboratories, new academic space, and renovated student amenities. The college’s long history of success in the sciences, as evidenced by its programs in animal science, dental technology and forensic science, prompted the establishment of the School of Applied Sciences in 2012, and the creation of a new science center was the next logical step. The School of Design, a curriculum staple at the college, required updated facilities to expand its offerings with animation, game art, and digital visualization among others, a move that helped energize the School of Design into becoming the home of some of the most popular majors at Mount Ida. With approximately 60 percent of Mount Ida College students choosing to live on campus, the college strives to provide a vibrant and dynamic residential community and meaningful opportunities for living and learning in and out of the classroom.
To keep pace with the 50 percent of Mount Ida students who enroll in science courses or choose a science major, the college chose to convert a general classroom building into a new science center for the School of Applied Sciences. Designed by MPA and built by Commodore Builders, the facility includes new state-of-the-art biology and chemistry laboratories, classroom space for undergraduates, audiovisual resources, and equipment to provide an exceptional teaching and learning environment for the applied science programs. The new science center, which consolidated science programs housed in other buildings on campus, also expands existing campus facilities with more collaborative meeting spaces and a central auditorium. Jamie Chan, a Mount Ida College School of Design graduate and MPA’s graphic designer, created the mural that animates the science center lobby and expresses excitement for Mount Ida’s science programs.
MPA’s renovations to Mount Ida’s School of Design included updated faculty spaces that promote inter-disciplinary exchange among students and faculty, new computer and game art classrooms, and the creation of a gallery to showcase student work as well as innovative national and international artists and designers. The improvements to the School of Design have created a completely new and re-energized tenor at the School.
Furniture and lab benches for the School of Design and the School of Applied Sciences were generously donated by Boston Scientific Corporation and Hobbs Brook Management. Laboratory scientific equipment was provided through a generous gift by Trustee Carmin Reiss.
MPA also designed renovations for Mount Ida’s CONNECT, a new Living Learning Community established in 2014 for first-year students in selected majors. CONNECT offers a strong student community of common learning and easy access to built-in academic support from upperclassman peer tutors. MPA renovated the third floor of Wingate Hall, designing a new classroom, two lounge and study spaces, and an office for the resident instructor. Mount Ida’s Living Learning Communities are enormously successful at fostering the tight-knit, diverse and supportive community for which Mount Ida College is known.
Lastly, the newly renovated Commuter Student Lounge in Holbrook Hall will open in the fall 2016. MPA’s design creates a place on campus for commuter students to study, collaborate, and socialize, helping them feel more connected to the community and providing them with the flexibility and freedom to participate fully in campus life.
“Over the course of the school’s 117 years, Mount Ida College has changed to meet the needs of our students, jobs and the economy, but our core values and the College’s purpose have remained constant: preparation for careers, life, and being the best version of yourself,” said Mount Ida College President Barry Brown. “We have invested more than $25 million on our campus in the past three years, and this dedication of time and energy into campus improvements enhances the robust college experience we offer our students.”
Marc Margulies, FAIA, LEED AP, is a principal and senior partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects.