Kendall Sports and Dance Complex, Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, Massachusetts
Called upon to untangle the jumble of spaces devoted to recreation and dance programs that had coexisted uneasily for a number of years inside Kendall Hall, Moser Pilon Nelson created an addition in order to relocate dance studios from the center of the facility to space adjacent to an existing 300-seat dance performance theater. The 4,750-square-foot addition comprises two dance studios separated from the theater by a corridor. As part of the expansion, a new entry plaza replaced weathered steps of crumbling concrete and broken slate with a diagonally placed grand stair under a canopy emphasizing the new entry. A 30-foot vertical glass element provides a view into the dance center circulation at the juncture of the new dance wing to the existing complex.
Inside, the performance center got permanent, fixed seating, with the slope made steeper for enhanced sight lines and to accommodate a theater-arts classroom underneath. The project’s trickiest maneuver involved the installation of a 12-by-80 foot skylight that runs the length of the performance space, outfitted with blackout shades that open and close with the push of a button.
Moving the dance studios from the building’s core meant that a truly state-of-the-art fitness space could be created there, with a mezzanine included for group-cycling programs and the space underneath for a strength and conditioning circuit. Improvements included a skylight above the mezzanine to bring additional daylight into the space.
The $5 million reorganization complete, Mount Holyoke has strengthened its recreation program and created a glittering new dance center that serves as home of The Five College Dance Department, a shared effort of the Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and University of Massachusetts Amherst dance departments.