Washburn House

Constructed in 1878, near the center of Smith College, Washburn House is the second oldest residence house built by the college. The building has undergone various modernizations over its lifetime, and has still retained much of its historic character.

At the exterior, our work involved replacing the historic porch with a new accessible entry. The interior work included new lounges and kitchen. Bathrooms were upgraded and made accessible and lighting was upgraded in corridors and lounges.

The college is currently in the process of converting the entire campus from steam heating to renewable electric heating. In line with this campaign, Washburn House received a full mechanical system upgrade – featuring a ground-source heat pump (GSHP) and a pair of super-efficient energy recovery ventilators (ERVs). C&H worked with Smith College’s faculty and the school’s carbon accounting process to determine the carbon impact of various design alternatives.

This provided a more holistic and inclusive determination of project cost, which ultimately helped direct the project scope. A final blower door test showed effective air-sealing measures, bringing the air changes per hour at 50 pascals (ACH50) down from 9 to 5.6. Despite complications from the coronavirus pandemic, the project still finished under budget.

Project Team


C&H Architects

General Contractor

Mechanical Engineer

Structural Engineer

Landscape Design

Interior Design

Infiltration Diagnostics