Bentley College, Student Center

Waltham, Massachusetts

The new student center nestles on a sloping wooded site along two major campus pathways between residential and academic areas. It is focused around a new 500-seat dining facility with kitchen and servery. Other program elements include a 100-seat private dining room/pub, game rooms, multipurpose rooms, offices and work space for student organizations, student-services ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$257.00CITATIONPost-Secondary CitationFEATURED IN2003 Architectural Portfolio offices, a chapel, conference rooms, and lounge and social spaces. A campus living room with a fireplace creates a community focus.

The most significant challenge was the site, which had been a series of parking lots defining a 30-foot vertical drop across the slope and a 15-foot drop lengthwise. It provided unimpeded access, sun and views to the south. The site was underlain by ledge and immediately adjacent to occupied residence halls, making excavation challenging and costly.

The design carefully sets the three-story building into the hillside, stepping down the slope in both directions. The two principal entrances are situated on different levels, each positioned to intercept students on their way from the residence halls to their classes at the top of the hill. The building plan follows the topography with splayed geometries, and the exposed heavy-timber framing and bright colors capture the informal nature of the program.

“Wonderful relationship to campus pathways and sloping site conditions.”--2003 jury