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Smith College Neilson Library

Northampton, MA
  • Photo credit: Maya Lin Studio © 2017.

This project’s goal was to renovate and expand Smith College’s main 1909 library building. Despite the increased square footage, the overall building footprint was reduced by about 25%, returning lost open green space to the adjacent grounds in deference to Frederick Law Olmsted’s original 1893 campus plan.

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The project team removed two additions from 1962 and 1982, restoring the original design and making the interior spaces more open and welcoming.

The project team removed two additions from 1962 and 1982, restoring the original design and making the interior spaces more open and welcoming.

The new addition consists of two new wings, known as “jewel boxes”, located to the north and south of the original H-shaped library. The south wing is home to special collections, archives and rare books; the north wing has spaces for active learning, a new cafe, and a digital media hub. The north wing’s outdoor sunken courtyard allows daylight into the lower level. Silman designed the addition’s structural steel framing to accommodate over 800 MEP penetrations.

The Neilson Library project, designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, is part of a larger campus library master plan.

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