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Miller Dyer Spears Selected as Architect for WSU’s Parenzo Hall Renovation

WESTFIELD — Miller Dyer Spears (MDS) has been chosen as the architectural firm to design Westfield State University’s (WSU) $40 million, multi-year Parenzo Hall renovation project.

Following a request for proposals set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), the Massachusetts Designer Selection Board (an autonomous, 11-member board) reviewed and selected Boston-based MDS from three finalists among more than 20 applicants.

“As we observed through the site visit and fuller assessment process, MDS demonstrated innovative strategies to leverage space to meet the vision of the project. We were particularly impressed with the quality of sub-consultants proposed for the project and the firm’s background with state projects and construction-management projects,” said WSU Vice President for Administration and Finance Stephen Taksar.

Westfield State received $21.25 million in state funding last year for the renovation of Parenzo Hall, the university’s oldest building, which opened in 1956. Nearly matching the state’s $21.25 million investment, WSU will invest approximately $20 million of university funds into the project.

“The dated but highly utilized building will be transformed into a state-of-the-art hub for student success and workforce development,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Diane Prusank. “The renovations will create two new centers — the Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships and the Center for Student Success and Engagement. In addition to benefiting Westfield State students, the centers will have far-reaching impact beyond the university’s physical campus.”

Parenzo Hall’s Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships will leverage technology to serve as the nexus for innovative collaboration in Western Mass., partnering with K-12 school districts, community colleges, and industry partners. It will teach students and community partners how to engage productively in online-hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment.

The Center for Student Success and Engagement will address the student-outcomes goals of WSU’s Vision Project (increasing retention and graduation rates, and reducing the achievement gap). The project will also address the continuing decline in the number of working-age adults. The center will increase student preparation for advanced learning and support exploration of career pathways in elementary and high schools to prepare them for on-the-job training. New and in-demand certificate programs, as well as advanced study options, will be offered to its business partners, utilizing technology.

In addition to the centers, several academic departments will be located in the renovated facility, including Education and Political Science. The state-of-the-art technology and flexible learning spaces will provide enhanced opportunities to better prepare students for a complex, changing environment.

“Parenzo Hall has served as an important campus building since Westfield State’s founding,” said MDS Principal James Loftus. “This project will modernize the aging facility and create new environments that will help students thrive on campus and beyond. It is an honor to work with Westfield State and DCAMM to craft improvements that advance their vision for innovation and contribute to student success.”

The project’s space-utilization study portion is nearly complete, and an anticipated groundbreaking is expected in early 2021.

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