With the construction of a new 400-bed residence hall on a steeply sloping site on the northern end of its campus, Framingham State University, the first “progressive” educational school in the United States, has completely transformed its landscape at this end of campus. Challenged with almost forty feet of vertical grade change across the site, RBA addressed accessibility early in a Master Plan that also strengthened a sense of arrival and campus identity. An accessible walkway was integrated in a new sloped landscape amphitheater and then extended to the once-isolated Linsley Hall for improved campus connectivity.
The design’s main focus is the careful and sustainable structuring of outdoor spaces — from upper plaza to sloped amphitheater to play lawn — in a way that creates dramatic settings for social and active use. On its surface, the 100’ x 100’ high-use lawn supports impromptu activities and more formal campus gatherings, while beneath it sits both a stormwater cistern to collect and store water for irrigation use and a geothermal system for building heating. Throughout the project site, selected native tree, shrub, and groundcover species increase campus sustainability by reducing irrigation and landscape maintenance needs, and the future oak canopy will expand the tree cover qualities of the historic central campus quad.