Science Center, Wellesley College

Science Center

Perry Dean Rogers & Partners, 1975

Harleston Parker Medal, 1987

Structure, mechanical systems and stairways become expressive elements on this prominent campus façade, doing the job that classical ornamentation used to do on more traditional buildings. It is a tamer version of the 1977 Centre Pompidou in Paris – while the designs developed completely independent of one another, both seek to use the power of industrial elements to breathe new life into modernism.

The five-story concrete frame is infilled with glass to interconnect inside and outside; projecting bays contain stairways but pick up the rhythms of more conventional campus buildings. Vents and structural elements poke up through the roof to suggest the power of an ocean liner or power plant. The new building backs up to the older science center, trapping angular lounge spaces in between; their soaring heights and criss-crossing bridges make them popular spaces for study and socializing.

A later addition and maturing landscape have softened the initial impact of the colorful, industrial façade. Several striking newer buildings, two of them Harleston Parker medalists, have continued the transformation of this traditional campus, with more underway.

Source: The Making of the Beauborg: A Building Biography of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Nathan Silver, MIT Press, 1994