Commonwealth Honors College Earns Award from American Institute of Architects

Commonwealth Honors College
Commonwealth Honors College

Commonwealth Honors College (CHC), the university’s seven-building residential college that was completed in 2013, has earned an American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2016 Housing Award in the category of specialty housing.

The AIA Housing and Custom Residential Knowledge Community established this awards program to emphasize “the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit and a valuable national resource.”

The CHC complex was cited for providing the “sense of an academic village for the Honors College, with a series of open outdoor quads for students to gather.” Further, the design “brings together academic and residential components to create a true ‘Living and Learning’ community.”

The project which was designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects, of Boston, was also noted for being LEED Silver certified.

One award juror called the CHC a “rich mixture of campus buildings resembling an Italian hill town.” Another said, “at every scale it was well thought out and integrated.” Another noted the “careful spaces for social engagement.”

The complex hosts the administrative home of the Commonwealth Honors College, including all related advising and outreach efforts.

The 500,000 square-foot residential complex provides 1,500 beds for all four classes of undergraduate of CHC students in a mix of unit types, including approximately 600 beds of singles and doubles, and 900 beds in suites and apartments.

The buildings step down the hillside with a series of open outdoor quads for students to gather, including an amphitheater that can be used for teaching classes, presenting a play or debate, or for hosting an orientation for prospective students. A cluster of nine classrooms, located off one of the courtyards and scaled to support smaller classes and seminars, provides many opportunities for student-faculty interaction.

The Roots Café located adjacent to the Events Hall and the Priscilla Clarkson Plaza has proven a very popular destination for CHC students, faculty and other members of the university community.

The AIA report also listed 14 engineering, design, consulting and managing firms that were involved in the project.