Wang Campus Center, Wellesley College

Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, 2005

Harleston Parker Medal, 2006

Scogin, the former head of Harvard’s architecture department, and his wife, are known for their assertive forms and meandering spaces that teeter on the edge of chaos, but are ultimately held together by their entertaining spatial narratives.

The five level Campus Center floats above its steeply sloping site held aloft by a forest of concrete columns. Arcing bridges sweep up and into the building, dramatizing the act of entering into its fragmented tree house volumes. Odd angles, projecting roofs and terraces, bay windows and shingle-like surfaces give it a cozy residential character – perhaps for an eccentric uncle.

The interior is a collage of student oriented spaces with inventive details and dramatic stairs and spatial overlooks that provide places for study - and plenty of distractions from it. A vertiginous multi-purpose room defined by warped walls reaching up to the sky, and walls of glass looking out over adjacent woods and wetlands, put on a very good show.

Everywhere you go materials and lighting are used in incredibly inventive ways. The fractured forms and labyrinthine spaces provide every kind of delight except the one that Lulu Wang promised – a Center with an actual center. W.B Yeats line that “things fall apart” comes to mind.

Source: HPM Jury reportImages: ©Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects