SMITH BECHTEL ENVIRONMENTAL CLASSROOM

Smith College’s Bechtel Environmental Classroom in Whately, Massachusetts is a new, 2,500 S.F. single-story wood-framed classroom building, acting as a field station for a 233-acre forest and pasture property. For the past 60 years the property has accommodated an astronomical observatory. Recently, Smith College declared its intention to open the pastoral setting to class activity, enriching a wide range of Smith’s courses with natural inspiration — everything from the biological and earth sciences to architecture, poetry and dance courses. The building is set into the sloping, inclined meadow below a small rise in an area used as a stone dump by generations of farmers. It encloses two major spaces – a classroom for biological and earth sciences, and a seminar space for humanities seminars and larger group gatherings. There are composting toilets (but no shower), a kitchenette, and a field station manager’s office.

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