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Pomona College's Smith Campus Center Wins Facility Design Award for Renovation

Kinsmith Coop Fountain at Pomona College's Smith Campus Center

Students hang out at the Kinsmith Coop Fountain in Smith Campus Center

The Living Room in Pomona College's Smith Campus Center.

The living room in Smith Campus Center gives students a quiet place to study or meet in small groups.

The success of Pomona College’s Smith Campus Center has been recognized with one of six Facility Design Awards from the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), during their annual conference in March.

The ACUI Award recognizes excellence in design of college unions as well as other student-centered campus buildings. Projects were judged on the basis of the facilities’ appearance, the process to arrive at the design and how the new or renovated facility affected the campus.

Opened in 1999, Pomona’s Smith Campus Center underwent a dramatic, $9.7 million renovation to better attract and serve the campus community. The renovations by SmithGroup turned five separate meeting rooms into one large lounge social area with mailroom, moved the games room from the second floor to ground level, opened up access from both the north and south sides of the building to make it more welcoming, and turned the unfinished social space in the basement into a pub-like area for campus events, parties and programs.

Today the living room is frequently filled with students reading, working on laptops or working in small study groups. In the popular Kinsmith Coop Fountain, students catch up with each other over french fries, meet with faculty or play pool, scrabble or foosball. At night, Doms Lounge is often a social hot spot, hosting bands, comedians or parties.

“The most visible signs that what we did worked was the clamor from students to extend building hours and the desire by the faculty and staff to reserve spaces that were previously only used by students,” says Neil Gerard, associate dean of students and director of the SCC. “One of the keys to the success of the Doms Lounge was the excavation of the south lawn to provide outside entrance and patio space below grade.”

Providing critical input to throughout the renovation project was the Campus Center Planning Committee, a group of students, faculty, staff and trustees, chaired by trustee A. Redmond “Rusty” Doms ’62, that was involved in all aspects of the renovation from core concepts to color and furniture selection.

“I was elated to learn we had been honored with this award,” said Principal Architect Mark McVay. “It’s a testament to the creativity, intelligence, and courage of our design, construction, and campus teams.”

The other five projects recognized by the ACUI for design excellence were:

  • the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center, Lawrence University, KSS Architects;
  • the Student Success Center, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Mackey Mitchell Architects;
  • the Interactive Learning Center, Boise State University, Opsis Architecture;
  • The Commons, Bates College, Sasaki Associates Inc.; and
  • the Joe Crowley Student Union, University of Nevada-Reno, WTW Architects.