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Worcester State University
Sheehan Hall

Through smart siting and massing, Sheehan Hall coalesces a residential precinct along a new public plaza and pedestrian pathway.

  • Location



    Practice area


Smart siting and programming creates a new residential neighborhood

This new residence hall and dining facility grew out of its original design brief to become far more than just a residence hall; it inspired the creation of a new residential neighborhood and de facto student center. Prior plans sited this building to the north with parking between residence halls. We proposed an alternative—one that coalesces a residential precinct along a new public plaza and pedestrian pathway to inform a lively, mixed-use residential building and campus center.

Lobby is home to seamless flow of activity

The building’s lobby acts as a vital social space through which a majority of students pass on a daily basis. It is part of a spine of ground-level community activity that includes game rooms, dining, and multi-use spaces. Public spaces connect both visually and physically, creating a bustling atmosphere of urban activity. Local artists were selected to create pieces that echo the vital spirit of the building design, as well as the stunning natural surroundings of the region’s landscape.

Open and flexible dining

The dining hall is open on all sides to views of the residential neighborhood, playing fields, and the hills beyond. Within, the servery area offers students numerous options, including special kitchens to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions and preferences. The dining hall provides both flexibility and accessibility for students. Varied table heights and seating configurations mix up the social options and offer something for everyone. A long-span structural system keeps the room largely column free, with the flexibility to accommodate non-dining events, such as movie nights.

Seven culinary stations provide students with unique menus that cater to individual needs and diets.

Cooking is put on display to create an entertaining, vibrant atmosphere for dining and socializing.

Cohesive landscape knits the campus together

The design creates a connective, landscaped plaza lined with new dining, social, and recreational spaces at the ground level. Whereas the primary path from dorm to classroom used to cut unceremoniously through a parking lot, students now travel easily between residence halls and nearby academic buildings. The plaza itself has become a well-programmed campus space, hosting events ranging from rock concerts to sustainability fairs. Landscape elements echo the bucolic environment of the campus, while strategically retaining rainwater on site.

Project impact
  • 10%

    Of undergraduate student body housed in Sheehan Hall

  • 7

    Culinary stations, each providing students with a unique menu that caters to individual needs and diets

There is something striking about the building that truly distinguishes it from our other recent projects. The quality of this public space in Sheehan Hall sets it off from our other projects.
Ed AdelmanExecutive Director, MSCBA

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Project Team

AKF Engineers Group

Andelman & Lelek Engineering

Atelier Ten

Browne Richardson & Rowe

Cavanaugh Tocci Associates

Consigli Construction Company

Daedalus Projects

Envision Strategies

Jensen Hughes

Nitsch Engineering

Ricca Design Studios

Richard D. Kimball Company

RSE Associates

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Smoot Associates

Soden Sustainability

Stefura Associates

Vertran Enterprises

Vision Builders & Design

Whitney Veigas



Anton Grassl

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