At Smith College, a private women’s liberal arts school where building community is a guiding ethos, Paradise Road Housing Complex offers a new take on an old tradition.
Paradise Road contains five, two-story buildings, each with four 1,400-square-foot apartment units, all arranged around a central courtyard. The units carefully respond to the site and celebrate the local New England architectural tradition with their use of brick and gently pitched roofs, while at the same time offering modern living and gathering spaces for students.
Paradise Road celebrates connections: between individual students living together in the apartments, between the five building units that in themselves form a community, and between the campus and the larger Northampton community. We emphasized the connections the buildings have to each other, and to the landscape beyond.
Principal Kirsten Murray gathered firsthand information from students about how they wanted to live through a series of design charrettes, resulting in a housing complex intended for seniors making the transition from dorm living to more self-sufficiency.
Each unit is designed with a kitchen and a common living area to encourage social interaction, while also providing private bedrooms for each student. There are additional communal study and laundry areas in the southernmost building. This public/private negotiation continues in the central courtyard, which acts as an extension of adjacent streets that run through campus, while also providing outdoor spaces for Paradise Road residents to gather. Representative of Smith’s desire to nurture students who are good stewards and citizens, Paradise Road achieved LEED® Gold for Homes status.
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