Merritt Hall Academic Building


Merritt Hall is the final building completing the historic North Quad originally conceived in the early 1900’s campus master plan by the office of Frederick Law Olmsted.

The new building is home to the college’s Graduate and Professional Studies, and the Department of Psychology and features department offices and teaching space for the internationally recognized Deaf Education Program,  including ASL classroom space. There is also an Academic Skills Center, including a testing suite, numerous classrooms, seminar rooms, and student lounges, as well as interior and outdoor terrace space for campus gatherings.

Fitting comfortably into the hillside, Merritt Hall provides two “front” doors to engage the building with its context on all sides and fits very comfortably into its high profile location on campus.

Project Highlights

  • A unique circulation pattern for each floor, accomodates the variety of program needs for each floor within tight site constraints
  • Glass window walls along corridors bring "borrowed light" to the interior corridors
  • Oversized exterior windows and a west terrace visually scale down a relatively large building mass to comfortably fit in with the adjacent campus context
  • High quality materials, with a brick, limestone and slate roofing exterior fit well into the historic quad and were detailed to stand the test of time
  • Psychology Department includes an avian animal testing facility designed to AAALAC standards
  • A very prominent campus location required a building designed with "four front facades" requiring careful aesthetic integration of building service facilities
  • Program spaces include offices, seminar rooms and general registrar classrooms supporting Department of Psychology, Graduate & Proffesional Studies and Deaf Education.
  • Academic Skills Center
  • Deaf Education Department includes additional glass for visual transparency and commuinication, wider "communication nodes" in the corridors to promote more casual student/faculty American Sign Language (ASL) communication and an "In the Round " ASL Classroom
  • Graduate/Commuter Student Lounges open on to an expansive outdoor terrace
  • Outdoor terrace overlooking playing fields serves as a great outdoor venue for events
  • Two seminar rooms on the top floor have convenient classroom furniture storage and a small outdoor terrace enabling these spaces to also serve as an indoor entertainment and event venue

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Project Details

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Four Buildings in One...

Merritt Hall required some creative juggling to fit five primary academic functions (Registrar classrooms, Psychology Department with animal labs, Graduate & Professional Studies Department, Deaf Education Program and a Student Academic Skills Center) into a modest building footprint. The site demanded a limited footprint and a formal building massing in keeping with the context and in respect to the original historic master plan. Each program required significantly different square footage. It was solved by creative use of circulation and organization, creating a distinctive floor layout on each of the four floors. The Ground Floor, the largest, extends out to the west where the necessary extra footprint serves as an outdoor terrace for the floor above. Animal labs, requiring quiet and security, are on the east side of the building, built into the hillside. The main classroom floor is a traditional double-loaded corridor scheme and all occupied spaces have access to daylight. The Third Floor, mostly offices and seminar rooms, utilizes a perimeter "racetrack" circulation scheme, so that all main occupied spaces have exterior windows. This is all accomplished, in part, by careful placement of stairs, and the creative use of a double-sided elevator configuration. The Third Floor is primarily mechanical space, but allowed for two substantial seminar rooms sharing a common lobby area - a great space for department social events.