Studio Luz Architecture and Urban Design

Wellesley College
Acorns Renovation

Wellesley, MA

Institutional Renovation; 3,375 sf
Completion: 2016

Project Overview

Transforming a residential modernist building into a dynamic new home for Asian, Latina, and LGBTQ Advising. Student and faculty input was a critical part of the participatory design process.

Project Team

Hansy Better Barraza
Lisa LaCharite
Dane Clark
Yin Lu
Wenda Shen
Ariana Lee

Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing

Allied Consulting

General Contractor

Commodore Builders

Code Consulting

AKF Group

Photography

John Horner

PARTICIPATORY DESIGN PROCESS

STUDENT AND FACULTY COLLABORATION

Studio Luz held a series of focus groups with students and faculty to understand the community’s aspirations for the department and space. The design also drew upon Wellesley College’s mission statement, which emphasizes service and leadership.

FLEXIBLE DESIGN

BALANCING CONFIDENTIALITY AND COMMUNITY

The kitchen and living room were converted into central spaces for gathering, while the bedrooms were converted into offices for specific affinity groups. Rooms were designed with movable textile curtains to either conceal and ensure confidentiality, or to open-up and foster community.

SPACE OF SUPPORT

INTRICATE IDENTITIES OF INTERCONNECTEDNESS

Universities are struggling with creating support spaces for students of color. Wellesley has done this well – in part because of spaces like the Acorns House. The space creates a sense of overlapping, intricate identities of interconnectedness while maintaining the structural integrity of Acorns House.
Acorns House View Into Lounge
Acorns House Diagram
Acorns House - Curtain Opening
Acorns House - Open Curtains
Acorns House - Closed Curtain
Acorns House - Open Curtain
Acorns House - Overview Plan
Acorns House - Lounge
Acorns House - Lounge Looking Out
Acorns House - Outside

About the Space

At Wellesley College

Originally designed in 1955 by the architecture firm Compton + Pierce, Acorns House at Wellesley College had historically been used as a residence for the Dean of Students. The primary design challenge was to transform the modernist building into a new home for Asian, Latina, and LGBTQ+ Advising within the Office of Intercultural Education (OIEC). The renovation preserves elements of the original design while incorporating community perspectives. Studio Luz held focus groups with students and faculty to understand the community’s aspirations for the program, and also conceptualized the space based on Wellesley College’s mission statement. Movable textiles create flexibility and ensure spaces can foster confidentiality or community depending on meeting needs. The kitchen and living room were converted into central spaces for gathering, while the bedrooms were converted into offices for specific affinity groups. Furniture associated with the home – such as hammocks and lounge chairs – create a sense of community. The overall effect creates a sense of overlapping, intricate identities of interconnectedness while maintaining the structural integrity of Acorns House.

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