Alternative Locations for Ford Hall and Future Campus Expansion

Shu Liu
Geo150, spring 2007

Smith College’s Ford Hall is an approximately 140,000-square-foot building that will accommodate its expanding Picker Engineering Program, computer science, chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology departments. Named in honor of the Ford Motor Company Fund, the primary donor to the scheme, Ford Hall will be a sustainable, environmentally friendly and academically-inspiring building at the proposed site, Green Street. The college imagines it to “be a compelling, visible statement of Smith’s public identity as the women’s college with the strongest programs in science and engineering.”1

Green Street is known for its small cafés, restaurants, antique book shops and boutiques in a relaxing, quiet and ever so friendly atmosphere. The street which borders the south side of the campus integrates residential houses with academic buildings. Local residents regard Green Street as a historically important commercial strip that brought about variety, vitality and convenience to the surrounding neighborhood. When the college revealed its intention to expand its campus, the Northampton community immediately reacted against the plan while they showed high degrees of anxiety, concerns and dissatisfaction. They worry that the construction of the new academic building will inevitably demolish the neighborhood, transform the previous peaceful street and ultimately impact their lives. Smith’s intention further triggered many public debates about the future of this shady part of the city and exacerbated the town-gown relations.

Therefore, the overriding objective of this project is to investigate whether Green Street is the most suitable site for Ford Hall, and identify possible locations, other than Green Street, for future expansions in proximity to the Smith Campus.

1 Ford Hall: A Building for the Sciences & Engineering. Smith College. 30 Apr. 2007 <>.

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