Architect selected for WSU Parenzo Hall renovation

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University has partnered with the community since it was founded in 1838 and a renovation of the campus’ oldest building, Parenzo Hall, will further those relationships.

WSU announced Wednesday that architectural firm Miller Dyer Spears (MDS) will design the $40 million, multi-year renovation of Parenzo Hall.

“As we observed through the site visit and fuller assessment process, MDS demonstrated innovative strategies to leverage space to meet the vision of the project. And, we were particularly impressed with the quality of sub-consultants proposed for the project and the firm’s background with state projects and construction management projects,” said Westfield State University Vice President for Administration and Finance Stephen Taksar.

A Request for Proposal was made by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and was reviewed by the 11-member Massachusetts Designer Selection Board. Boston-based MDS was selected from three finalists among more than 20 applicants.

The renovation will create two new centers that will connect the university with area schools and businesses.

“The dated, but highly utilized building will be transformed into a state-of-the-art hub for student success and workforce development,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Diane Prusank, Ph.D. “The renovations will create two new centers—the Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships and the Center for Student Success and Engagement. In addition to benefitting Westfield State students, the centers will have far-reaching impact beyond the University’s physical campus.”

Parenzo Hall’s Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships will leverage technology to serve as the nexus for innovative collaboration in the area. WSU will partner with K–12 school districts, community colleges, and industry partners. According to WSU’s press release, the Center will teach students and community partners how to engage productively in online-hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment.

The Center for Student Success and Engagement will address the student-outcomes goals of the Vision Project (increasing retention/graduation rates/reducing the achievement gap). The project will also address the continuing decline in the number of working age adults. According to the release, the Center will increase student preparation for advanced learning and support exploration of career pathways in elementary and high schools to prepare them for on-the-job training. New and in-demand certificate programs, as well as advanced study options will be offered to its business partners, utilizing technology.

Several academic departments will also be located in the renovated facility, including Education and Political Science. The state-of-the-art technology and flexible learning spaces will provide enhanced opportunities to better prepare its students for a complex, changing environment. 

“Parenzo Hall has served as an important campus building since Westfield State’s founding. This project will modernize the aging facility and create new environments that will help students thrive on campus and beyond. It is an honor to work with Westfield State and DCAMM to craft improvements that advance their vision for innovation and contribute to student success,” said MDS Principal James Loftus.

WSU received a $21.25 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the renovation in 2018. Westfield State will invest approximately $20 million of University funds into the project.

Groundbreaking for the project is expected in early 2021.


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