Two Higher Ed Projects Win AIA Awards

Framingham State McCarthy Dining Commons Worcester Polytechnic Institute WPI Elevated Field

Two SMMA projects—Framingham State University's McCarthy Dining Commons Addition and Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Elevated Athletic Fields over Parking—were recognized for excellence at the annual AIA Central Massachusetts Design Awards Dinner, held Saturday night in Boylston.

The event celebrated four architecturally noteworthy projects, either built in or designed by firms located throughout Worcester County and surrounding communities, with an outside jury composed of AIA Rhode Island members presenting three Merit Awards and one Honor Award.

The McCarthy Dining Commons Addition project received the sole Honor Award, the program's highest accolade. In its comments, the jury specifically noted the project's harmonious integration with the existing 1970s-era structure.

"The exterior design of the Dining Commons' expansion is a simple elegance in glass and lineal banding. The design develops the strong theme of its indoor/outdoor connection, highlighting an intentional blending of the new with the existing. The [floor] patterns create a metaphor . . . going from darker at the existing building to lighter as [the floor] approaches the new exterior glass wall. The project's strong attention to design and detail is seen throughout.” — AIA CM Awards Jury


A Merit Award winner, the Elevated Athletic Fields over Parking project was recognized for its novel solution to urban campus expansion. The jury also commented that the structure maintains a "comfortable pedestrian feel," despite its scale. 

"What this project represents for campuses of the future adds strong value to its design. The idea of conceiving the project in section, the layering of programmatic requirements of the existing fields and expanding campus parking, and how the resulting architecture is integrated with the campus community's brick of the old and the modernity of the new deserves special recognition.” — AIA CM Awards Jury


In addition to internal staff from both project teams, SMMA-invited guests on hand included representatives from each client institution, as well as from the Massachusetts State College Building Authority.