The largest project in the queue in the campus renewal plan reached an important milestone in April, when the Roger Duffy Studio at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, based in New York City, was selected as the architect for the renovation of the Science Center.
The plan for campus renewal, released in 2013, originally called for the complete renovation of the 1977 L-wing, which houses the laboratories, and minor infrastructure repairs to Sage Hall. However, since then, “We started to have even more failures in Sage,” making it clear that this part of the building needed more attention than was included in the original plan, says Cathy Summa ’83, director of the Science Center. Last fall, the trustees’ landscape and buildings committee reviewed and endorsed a new design concept—one that involves replacing most or all of Sage Hall, and updating the entire infrastructure in the L-wing so that the laboratories can be fully upgraded at a later date. Meanwhile, a project to rebuild the greenhouses is on hold until it is clearer what the footprint of the renovated Sage building will be.
“[Roger Duffy Studio] brings a really skillful, thoughtful design to the table. … Part of what we need to do is imagine how we’d like to renovate the lab building for the future by upgrading the infrastructure for the present. So we have to keep the floor layout essentially the same, but set it up so we can change it down the line. It’s a really complex, nuanced project,” says Summa.
Design work will begin this fall, and Summa hopes that construction will begin in the summer of 2018. “A lot of people in my generation came [to Wellesley] because we were so excited about the Science Center. It was such an exciting space when it was fresh and new. To think about creating that again, for students in the future, is really exciting. I remember thinking, when I was a first-year, that this place was a playground for science, and that’s what I want to see again,” Summa says.