Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Miller Dyer Spears selected as architect for Westfield State University’s $40 million Parenzo Hall renovation project

CONTACT: Troy Watkins,, 413.572.5523

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

Following a Request for Proposal set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, 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. And, 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 Westfield State University Vice President for Administration and Finance Stephen Taksar.

First announced in July 2018, Westfield State University received $21.25 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the renovation of Parenzo Hall, the University’s oldest building, which opened in 1956. Nearly matching the state’s $21.25 million investment, Westfield State 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. 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 benefitting Westfield State students, the centers will have far-reaching impact beyond the University’s physical campus,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Diane Prusank, Ph.D.

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 the Vision Project (increasing retention/graduation rates/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 its students for a complex, changing environment.  

“Parenzo Hall has served as an important campus building since Westfield State's founding. 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,” said MDS Principal James Loftus.

Regarding other progress on this project, the space utilization study portion is nearly complete and an anticipated groundbreaking for the project is expected in early 2021.

Founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, Westfield State University is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public co-educational college in America to offer an education without barrier to race, gender or economic status. This spirit of innovative thinking and social responsibility is forged in a curriculum of liberal arts and professional studies that creates a vital community of engaged learners who become confident, capable individuals prepared for leadership and service to society.

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