Smith College Kathleen McCartney Hall — inviting students to explore and pursue their purpose in an evolving world

Northampton, MA
In Progress, 2025
15,000 GSF
Mass Timber, Net-Zero Ready

Type: Academic
Theme: Making & Learning

Project EUI

reduction in energy use compared to the AIA 2030 baseline

In the heart of Smith College’s historic Northampton campus, TenBerke is designing a new facility devoted to collaborative leadership and career development, a place for students to explore and pursue their purpose in an evolving world. The 15,000 square-foot mass timber building will bring together two existing centers—the Lazarus Center for Career Development and the Wurtele Center for Leadership—under a shared roof. By deliberately co-locating these two centers in a prominent location, the project aims to catalyze their mutually supporting endeavors, inviting students in to find their own voice and path, to articulate their leadership strengths as part of their career preparation. Smith College is en route to carbon neutrality by 2030 with a campus-scale geothermal energy project underway. In alignment with this target, the new building is designed to be net zero ready, connecting to the geothermal sources at completion.

The building will have an active presence in the serene, Olmsted-designed campus. The design of Kathleen McCartney Hall—named for Smith College’s 11th President—realizes the potential of its exceptional site. Perched on a hillside, the building overlooks Paradise Pond, the campus’s most iconic natural feature. A building viewed in the round and tucked into the steep slope of the site, it is designed to at once fit in and stand out. The design carves away space for outdoor rooms, both within the landscape and on the low roof, creating new shared campus places with precious views to the pond.

A new network of paths wends through the site, providing universal access through this challenging topography and better connecting the beloved Paradise Pond to the rest of 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 surrounding 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 zero energy ready building will tie into Smith’s ambitious campus-wide geothermal energy project. A mass timber structural system decreases embodied carbon emissions while also enabling a flexible floor plan that will maximize the repurposing of various spaces over the decades to come. A commitment to healthy materials has guided the selection of materials and furnishings. A simple and warm palette expresses both the building’s means of construction and the campus’s commitment to sustainability.

In all, the center is designed to be an integral companion to liberal arts education at Smith. With its holistic approach to melding leadership and career development, this will be a site to empower students for generations to come.

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We’ve designed in cues to encourage the students to enter the building on their own volition, to freely explore the offerings of the Lazarus and Wurtele centers. By creating an overtly welcoming place, the students are invited to discover and develop their own voice and their own path in life.

Arthi Krishnamoorthy, Senior Principal


Architect and Interior Design

Landscape Architect

Thornton Tomasetti
Sustainability, Structural Engineer, and Façade

MEP Engineer

Nitsch Engineering
Civil, Site, and Utility Engineer

Lighting Designer

Shen Milsom Wilke
AV, IT, Security, and Acoustics


Cost Estimating

Andrew Freeman

RW Sullivan
Code Consulting

Context & Drawings