Mount Wachusett Bemis Student Center

Gardner, MA


Mount Wachusett Community College

Client Challenge

The Haley Academic Center on the MWCC campus, built in the 1970s, no longer met the needs of the college’s commuter students. With almost no dedicated student lounge/study spaces, one small, inefficient dining wing and multiple ADA and building maintenance issues, the College was looking for a way to stretch their budget to give students space to study and re-charge between classes while they gathered funding for further phased renovations.


PCA reviewed a study commissioned by the College in 2015 and found ways to simplify the proposed phasing to deliver a quicker, higher-level impact on student life. The team saw potential to solve several problems at the same time by moving the proposed Phase 6 to Phase 1.

Enclosing an underutilized open-air patio space adjacent to the student life offices creates a lounge for 60+ students that also serves as swing space for students during the future renovation of the dining wing. The adjacent outdoor patio is reconfigured to attain ADA compliance. Smaller lounges inserted upstairs on the classroom level allow students to break out near classrooms, lowering the risk of students not returning to class during break periods. The retrofit project can be completed within a shorter timeframe and a smaller budget, making a large impact for less capital outlay.

PCA is working with MWCC and the MSCBA to plan subsequent phases of development including full renovation of the dining wing and a new main entry. The phased renovation represents the first project MSCBA is managing for a community college.