Babson College has consistently ranked #1 in entrepreneurship in the U.S. News Best Colleges Report. A hallmark of their unique academic program is Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME), which gives first-year students hands-on entrepreneurial experience. The new 200-bed Park Manor West residence hall designed by Sasaki features a collection of formal and informal learning spaces, including the Leonard A. Schlesinger Innovation Center, to support Babson's unique curriculum and mission. The location of the site at the geographic and social center of campus transforms the campus core. Situated between academic buildings to the west and a collection of historic residence halls to the east, Park Manor West becomes the crossroads of the academic and residential experiences on campus.
The siting of the building and its L-shaped parti forms three distinct open spaces and traverses over a floor of grade change from the south to the north. By embedding large interior volumes such as an amphitheater and a flex classroom into the grade change, the team was able to provide more spacious learning environments while reducing the height of the building in relation to the scale of the adjacent historic Park Manor residence halls. The building frames a new Residential Quad to the east and the new Tomasso Lawn to the west. Benches are staggered across the sloping lawn to create an outdoor theater-like setting that can be used for special occasions such as convocation and student performances or everyday classes held outdoors. A major pedestrian path lined with bench seating connects the residential quad with the academic precinct to the west.
A collection of academic and social spaces—including the amphitheater, bench seating, a flex classroom, conference rooms and the Innovation Center—are located at the intersection of the two residential wings and form the heart of Park Manor West. The Innovation Center is open 24/7 and is the home of Babson's award-winning FME program. Students can choose to work in a variety of open work spaces with configurable furniture on the ground floor and lounge seating on the second floor. Indoor/outdoor connections on three sides connect the life of the Innovation Center to the diverse landscapes created as part of the project. Floor to ceiling windows flood both levels and garage doors open up onto the entry terrace. Equipped with a kitchenette, the space hosts social functions such as alumni events, recruitment mixers, and business launch parties.
Park Manor West will achieve a LEED Silver rating. The design team installed all-LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and both photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar pre-heat panels. In addition, the Innovation Center features solar-tracking shades that automatically adjust to reduce the solar heat gain and glare in the space. All wood used throughout is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.