LEED Gold restoration project provides bright and airy setting for College events
Ann Beha Architects’ completed renovation and restoration of Wellesley College’s Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall is the first LEED Gold building on the Wellesley College campus. As the final initiative of an extensive land reclamation and environmental mitigation project, this project restores a treasured campus and community resource, and offers a unique setting for the performing arts in a revitalised historic setting.
Designed in 1922 by Cram and Ferguson, Alumnae Hall is the largest assembly space on the campus and the main venue for ceremonial events, music, dance and theatre performances. The hallmark of the project is the renovation of the 1,000-seat auditorium to support a range of activities, from lectures and student variety shows, to large productions and performances.
A new colour scheme creates an inviting setting for both daytime and evening events, and new upholstered and staggered seating improves circulation, sight lines, comfort and accessibility. The Auditorium’s historic murals were documented, recreated and reinstalled, and the long-concealed clerestory windows were re-opened, bathing the interior with light and revealing the renewed Alumnae Valley landscape. The design also includes a new lobby that was created at the building’s main entrance by enclosing an open brick portico. Glass systems were carefully designed to maximise transparency and light transmission, and enhance the patron experience.
On the lower level, a new flexible rehearsal and events space was created in a preconceived former ballroom and a system of custom clad acoustic partitions allow the space to be sub-divided. A below-grade addition features a green roof and terrace and provides space for new and expanded systems. This project has received two design awards, a 2011 Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award and a 2011 Paul E. Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts.