Responding to both historic and contemporary influences, the new building contributes to the campus' distinct composition of ornamental towers on the skyline.
The new classroom and library building knits together the upper and lower precincts of the campus.
The lower level shapes an exterior courtyard. A warm-toned brick with wood and stone accents complement the campus palette.
The scale of the library/chapel windows offer spectacular views between the upper and lower campuses. It is a place for reflection, study, celebration and discussion.
The custom translucent glass installation transforms in changing light.
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall, College of the Holy Cross
Worcester, Massachusetts
This steeply sloping New England college campus is traditionally viewed from a distance, and as the college grew, its profile of buildings on the horizon was distinguished by a series of ornamental towers and rooflines. The challenge of this commission was to knit together two elevations of the steep campus with a new classroom and library building in its center, while also enunciating its function on the hill.

The plan and aesthetic for the building resulted from several important concepts. On a visceral level, the site is at the physical and intellectual heart of the campus. From a campus planning point of view, the building acts as both a lateral and vertical crossroads for students, faculty, staff and visitors to move through the campus.
The new building’s location at the center of its 174-acre setting is a critical part of the intended goal of providing space for social dialogue and community interface. Connecting the upper and lower elevations of the campus, which is primarily traversed by foot, was a key determinant in the plan layout.

The seven-story building is organized with three stories rising above the hill and four stories descending down the hill. Entrances to the building are found both at the lower courtyard level (level one in plan) and the upper campus elevation (level three), the primary entrance for students attending classes in the building. This vital connection links the lower half of the campus, where academic life prevails, with the upper half of the campus, the location of the residence halls and the focus of most of the college’s social life.

With important elevations on both the front and rear and no obvious back to the building, the solution succeeds by extending the historic fabric of the campus. It provides views to the traditional quadrangles of the campus while creating new courtyards with other neighboring, historic buildings conceptualized as Italian gardens. The form-making reinforces the campus history by paying homage to beloved landmarks including a cemetery, a chapel and an historic bakery. The choice of a richly toned and variegated brick, with stone and metal accents, harmonizes with the language of adjacent historic buildings.

The goals for the building design included establishing a contemplative spirit to preside over the space, as well as the programs offered within. The physical space needed to be flexible, and provide a space for quiet meditation as well as for intellectual stimulation through discussion. The center serves to integrate all the departments and groups that were previously dispersed throughout campus. The center facilitates the collaboration of efforts among academic departments, groups and events and provides a central meeting place on campus for a wide variety of seminars, workshops and discussions for students of all faiths, as well as the entire surrounding community. The center is a premier example of merging a liberal arts education with spirituality.

Connections between the upper and lower halves of the campus are intentionally enmeshed, with multiple entrances and exterior punctuations in the building. The building acts as a crossroads between precincts on campus: academic and residential, social and formal, upper and lower, traditional and modern.




50,000 SF


Preservation Massachusetts, Paul E. Tsongas Award for Stewardship of a Campus
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Silver Hammer Awards
Worcester Design Awards, Award for Excellence


Jeff Goldberg/ESTO