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PHOTOS: State Hospital Adaptive Re-Use Exhibit by Wentworth Institute of Technology students

Yesterday's exhibit at Wentworth Institute of Technology was well worth the trip.  The Wentworth students showed incredible vision in their work of repurposing the Medfield State Hospital Lee Chapel building and some of the students included the Club House building as well as the Infirmary building into their design.

The students were limited in how they could re-use these buildings.  They had to choose from one of the following 5 options:

  • A Culinary Center

  • A Center for the Arts

  • Student Union and Library for a Community College

  • Museum and Visitors Center

  • Outpatient and Clinical Research Center

Back in January of this year, these students toured the Lee Chapel and walked the MSH properties and I asked many of them to give me their feelings about that visit.

Most students saw the beauty in the Chapel, the other brick structures and the surrounding open space and although the building was dark and cold when they visited, they could see past the present state of decline, and had the vision to design these re-use projects.

The students were provided with copies of the original architectural drawings and after completing initial designs, they then collaborated with other Wentworth students in the areas of Construction Management, Civil Engineering, Structural Design, Mechanical Design and Facilities Management to create innovative and creative plans for the site. 

Law students were also involved regarding major legal issues such as bylaws and hazardous waste disposal.  In total, over 90 students worked on these projects under coordination and direction of seven faculty members. 

The Culinary Center proposal used the surrounding agricultural lands as their source of food, including green houses for the winter months. Three Museum and Visitor Center proposals included a theater, historical museum that could include gallery space for a history of the hospital, history of treatment for mental illness, and even space or home for the Medfield Historical Society. The Center for the Arts adopted the Chapel for a performing arts theater and surrounding space for work areas, studios, and cafes.

For additional information please contact Prof. Charles Cimino at 617-989-4467 / ciminoc@wit.edu, or Gil Rodgers at 617-792-0583 / gilrodgers@aol.com. 

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Osler Peterson April 18, 2014 at 02:09 PM
I asked Prof. Cimino whether it would be possible to bring the displays to Medfield, so more residents could see them, and he thought that it could be done this summer. He just warned that they are all about 16' long, and it looked to me like there were about a dozen of them. So stay tuned. I especially liked the glass walkways that were envisioned as connectors between buildings, some of which were elevated as well.
Colleen M. Sullivan April 19, 2014 at 08:40 AM
That would be wonderful, Pete, as this exhibit was so well done, and so much detail was shown as to how these students transformed the Chapel and other bldgs. into very viable, usable spaces....the residents of Medfield would greatly enjoy seeing this, just to know that it is quite possible to restore/re-use/repurpose some of these buildings at the Medfield State Hospital site.
GM April 20, 2014 at 11:51 AM
I agree that the design ideas the students came up with were intriguing and definitely introduced a totally changed perspective (for me at least) on what might be done on the hospital site. I thought the design approaches and the unique analytical approaches individual teams took in developing their designs were notable, even if the specific applications defined in the assignment should prove to be impractical (e.g., you only need a student union building if you have a community college). Something that might be a neat way to let more Medfield residents view these designs would be to display them some summer weekend on the hospital site itself, near the Chapel. We would need to have a couple of those big heavy duty tents like the ones used during the Fun Fair, but seeing the students' designs on the site of the building itself would really bring the possibilities to life for a lot of people, I think.

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