Smith College’s Neilson Library Renovated

photo by Nic Lehoux

photo by Nic Lehoux

Northhampton, MA –  Shawmut Design and Construction announced that it has completed an extensive renovation and expansion to the Neilson Library at Smith College in Northampton.

Shawmut Design and Construction partnered with architectural designer Maya Lin and principal architect Shepley Bulfinch, to complete  the $120 million, 200,000sf  restoration project.

The new library incorporates the original 1909 design and reimagines the complex as a 21st century intellectual commons. It is composed of three distinct sections: the central core as well as two new wings, dubbed “jewel boxes” for their curved, light-filled design made from a mix of masonry, wood, and glass and featuring impressive views of the campus and surrounding woods and hills.

The north wing, named for Smith’s ninth president, Ruth J. Simmons, is filled with spaces to support active learning and scholarship, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

The south wing, named in honor of Smith’s eighth president, Mary Maples Dunn, brings together special collections, the Sophia Smith Collection; Rare Books; and College Archives, into one climate-controlled area, creating one-stop access to these materials.

Flexible, collaborative workspaces include the Learning Commons, Jill Ker Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and Special Collections Seminar Room, as well as a series of classroom spaces, a reading room, contemplative study areas, sunken courtyard, and event spaces, including an accessible outdoor amphitheater with shaded seating for studying, socializing, and outdoor events.

photo by Nic Lehoux

A Digital Media Hub offers studios for students to record podcasts, videos, and use other digital media; self-service labs where students can use technologies, such as spatial analysis, gaming software, survey software, and GIS; a User Experience Lab for research and usability testing; and access to large-format and 3D printers, as well as other creativity tools.

Neilson Library’s sustainability features include a high-performance building envelope, advanced daylighting strategies, and materials that promote health and wellness. To note is the healthy materials strategy, which employs Living Building Challenge criteria.