“Architectural Record” Highlights KieranTimberlake’s Redesign of Pendleton West at Wellesley

Pendleton West
Photo provided by Michael Moran
November 29, 2017

Architectural Record, an American monthly magazine dedicated to architecture and interior design, has published an article featuring the overhaul of Wellesley’s Pendleton West and the architectural firm responsible for the design, KieranTimberlake. The article describes the campus as “something to behold,” and says the project, a gut renovation of Pendleton West and a 10,000-square-foot addition, “has a quiet power and a complex agenda.”

The college, about five years ago, began planning capital improvements to its visual arts and music facilities, which also occupied the Jewett Arts Center next to Pendleton. At the time, there was no formal choral or orchestral rehearsal space on campus, and the outdated visual arts studios were insufficient for the growing field of media arts.

Wellesley’s campus has grown to the west in recent years, with the Davis Museum, the large sports complex, and the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center farther down the hill. Architectural Record writes, “This shift made what had been a back-door entry to the Academic Quad—a narrow brick stair between Pendleton and Jewett—into a front door.”

KieranTimberlake founding partner Stephen Kieran told the magazine, “There was an opportunity here to make the master plan whole again at this particular juncture by celebrating passage from the newly developed campus of the west up to the historic campus of the Academic Quad—it had to be not just a building, but also a portal.”

The Philadelphia-based firm’s website describes the project this way: “Designed as a cutting-edge contemporary arts space, both the addition and 48,000-square-foot renovation make room for Wellesley’s evolving and interconnected arts curriculum, which include traditional arts, music, and digital media programs. The new Pendleton West houses a suite of flexible art making spaces including classrooms and studios alongside acoustically tuned rehearsal and performance spaces.”

Wellesley marked the opening of the renovated building in October, with Transformations: Celebrating Pendleton West, four days of festive events that included a series of performances as well as a discussion with Kieran and Jesse Nicholson, landscape architect at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, which also was involved in the renovations.  

The article also quoted Phyllis McGibbon, Wellesley’s professor of art, saying, “We thought about how the building could intermingle traditional art forms and new media…and make the student experience more holistic.”