Landscape Design

Smith College, MNLA Partner for 20-Year Landscape Master Plan

Smith College in Northampton, Mass., recently partnered with landscape architecture firm MNLA to complete a 20-year landscape master plan for its 147-acre campus. The original campus of the private women’s liberal arts college measured 27 acres and was planned and founded as a botanical garden, according to a news release. The new plan is set to modernize the design to meet the current and future needs of the campus, students, faculty and staff.

The news release reports that the new plan “recalibrates the relationship between humans and their environment” and builds off of four foundational pillars of inclusive, adaptive, educational and connected landscapes. MNLA and Smith involved collaboration with Smith community members, including on-campus engagement sessions and interactive student projects, to get input at each stage of development.

The three districts of the Smith campus—River, Core and Town—will have its own aesthetic based on its own history, locality, cultural influences and ecology. “Mutually dependent landscape systems—circulation, land cover, hydrology and cultural systems—form a matrix within the campus, grounding the landscape and connecting it to its regional context,” said the press release. The new master plan will bring out the uniqueness of each district while still weaving together a cohesive campus feel.

Many of the plan’s individual projects have already been developed in detail, while small pilot projects are ready for implementation as a proof of concept and to test certain space transformations that could lead to longer-term initiatives.  Larger-scale projects will lay the seeds for the future of the campus and landscape.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].