West Hall

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering


Location: Needham, MA

Total GSF: 57,000 GSF

Completed: 2002


The West Hall is the first residence hall in a complex designed to house 650 students. Once completed, the residential complex will form an arc that responds to the curving, sloping terrain, and to the school’s desire to retain dense groupings of existing trees. The trees are a key landscape element, providing a visual and physical transition between the privacy of the housing and the lively activity of the adjacent campus center. 

Residence halls present unique sustainable design challenges. The quality of interior spaces is hugely important, as they are regularly and densely inhabited. Natural ventilation is often impossible because of the compartmentalized nature of such buildings, but thermal control of each individual room becomes possible precisely because of such compartmentalization. The West Hall uses this approach, consuming energy intelligently and efficiently. Daylighting for interior spaces also contributes to the building’s energy efficiency.


Photography © Michael Moran