MNLA is the landscape architect for Kathleen McCartney Hall at Smith College, the first outgrowth project from MNLA’s Landscape Master Plan. The new 15,000-square-foot student center is named after Smith’s eleventh president, and upon completion, will host the Lazarus Center for Career Development and the Wurtele Center for Leadership. Both the building and the landscape will host programs meant for student networking and campus leadership functions.
MNLA’s new network of paths winds through the site, providing universal access through this challenging topography and better connecting the beloved Paradise Pond to the heart of the campus. Outdoor rooms and performative landscapes are nestled into the crisscrossing paths. While creating tranquil settings to enjoy the pond, Smith’s longstanding conception of their landscape as a teaching and learning asset will be reinforced through didactic opportunities to engage with the project’s comprehensive hydrology system, which will improve water quality of the adjacent Mill River by maximizing stormwater retention and decreasing runoff. New and historic landscapes are stitched together while expressing Smith’s sustainability goals for the future.
The landscape design exemplifies many of MNLA’s Landscape Master Plan guidelines, including developing a sustainable system of planting typologies with the potential for replication across campus, specifically reducing non-essential lawn, introducing low-mow and meadow landscapes, providing showcase gardens to highlight the Botanic Garden mission, and creating landscapes for stormwater management. The pedestrian experience of the landscape is improved by providing universal access to all landscape spaces, connecting into the campus network, and removing parking from the campus core. The water quality of the Mill River is improved by decreasing stormwater run-off and maximizing the amount of stormwater captured on site with swales, green roofs, blue roofs, and permeable pavement.
The landscape design exemplifies many of MNLA’s Landscape Master Plan guidelines, including implementing sustainable land use and hydrologic systems.