Smith College — Paradise Road Housing

Northampton, MA

Western Builders assumed a central role in construction of this novel apartment-style student housing project designed by the Olson Kundig firm of Seattle. Clustered around a landscaped quad on the northern edge of campus, the five wood-framed, brick-faced residences are scaled to serve the college’s needs while remaining aesthetically compatible with the adjacent pre-existing neighborhood. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and clerestories that provide ample natural light, each of the two-story buildings contains four units comprised of a communal kitchen and bath, and four single bedrooms.

With this project, Western Builders put its four-decades-long wood-framing experience to work for Smith College, closely and thoughtfully collaborating with other independent contractors, including Coldham & Hartman Architects and CSL Consulting. Following the groundbreaking and foundation pouring, which took place during record-breaking winter conditions, we began construction, coordinating use of the worksite throughout ongoing demolition of the early twentieth-century Mason Infirmary, as well as abatement of an abandoned on-grounds steam system. In addition, we excavated and removed several hundred yards of unsuitable fill in strict compliance with regulations set forth by the Northampton Conservation Commission and the project’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.

During the peak summer months, Western Builders facilitated delivery of the project’s focal fiberglass window package (sourced from Vancouver British Columbia), while simultaneously working with Smith’s electrical contractor to minimize disruption to nearby residents and keep the project on schedule, even as the school’s campus-wide electrical upgrade was extended to Paradise Road. Western also played a key role in pursuing the housing’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification by serving as liaison between the inspection coordinator, Center for EcoTechnology, and acting commissioning agent Sustainable Energy Solutions.

In total, the Paradise Road Housing project accommodates 80 third- and fourth-year Smith College students, offering upperclassmen an appealing, energy-efficient, and conveniently located alternative to traditional dorm rooms.