Goat Big or Go Home

Harrington Auditorium Locker Rooms, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

Opened in 1968, Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Harrington Auditorium is a fine example of late mid-century modern architecture, a historic structure that occupies pride of place on the north side of the campus quadrangle. The facility is a social nexus, housing the home court of the institution’s basketball and volleyball programs, and also serving numerous campus recreational activities. Since its construction, however, it remained largely unimproved, and by 2011, was in need of significant renovations. 

WPI sought to investigate and implement the relocation of its varsity athletic support spaces to the auditorium’s basement. Part of a larger campus master plan, the project facilitated demolition of an existing building that allowed new campus pathways and linkages to be created. In collaboration with the Institute, SMMA developed an overall strategy that defined the steps of phased renovation and demolition, and met the school’s goal to have work finished in time for commencement 2015, WPI’s 100th anniversary.

SMMA Renovation Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) locker rooms

Stakeholder-Informed Programming

The SMMA design team led a series of programming and design workshops—engaging the school’s athletics, recreation, and administration staffs—to develop support spaces for 17 men’s and women’s varsity programs, including men’s football. Additionally, coaches’ locker rooms, laundry services, and an equipment room all had to be accommodated.

To achieve this, our designers developed a matrix of varsity schedules and locker room templates that allowed the rooms to be shared by various programs without conflict. Careful planning addressed appropriate locker sizes, accessibility, and Title IX provisions. 

An Ideal Canvas

Aesthetically, the new locker rooms—delivered in partnership with the project’s construction manager, Shawmut Design and Construction—provided an ideal canvas for inspirational spirit graphics. The designs on the walls needed to not only withstand the test of time in terms of materiality, but also reflect the school’s mission and its rich athletic tradition. The majority of the entrance hallway, therefore, features action shots of student-athletes, as well as imagery of WPI’s various athletic venues, including its SMMA-designed elevated field. 

To learn more about SMMA's work on the WPI campus, click here.

Keep Reading

Grabbing the Goat by the Horns

A special group of panels showcasing a collage of current teams, intended to be replaced every few years to feature new classes of athletes, is flanked by WPI’s iconic Proud Goat and Fierce Goat mascots. Entrances to the locker rooms are called out by a red floor, red wall, and large goat head. These alcoves are supplemented by a WPI cheer, such as "Get Your Goat On" and "Goat Out and Train." All graphics were conceptualized and refined in-house by members of SMMA’s Graphic Design Group.

Lite Wall System

SMMA designed a borrowed lite wall system that incorporates channel glazing, for team entries and the equipment-issue desk. The translucent system allows light transmittance across basement areas while providing an abuse-resistant finish. 

Team rooms feature mechanically ventilated lockers and island vanities. Because the building’s mechanical and electrical systems are served from the basement, detailed coordination of new and existing systems was critical to ensuring that operations of occupied adjacent spaces went uninterrupted within the construction zone.