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UMass Amherst Design Building

Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Shared By

August King


University of Massachusetts - Amherst


  • Andrea Leers
  • Josiah Stevenson
  • Tom Chung
  • Jeffrey Fishbein


  • Construction Manager: Suffolk Construction


87,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost

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Project Description


Leers Weinzapfel Associates is busily constructing the UMass Amherst Design Building, which will be the largest timber building of its size and scale in the Northeast when it is completed in November.

Bringing together the previously dispersed departments of Landscape Architecture, Architecture, and Building Technology programs, the new Design Building will be a dynamic space of exchange, collaboration, and experiment, celebrating a shared commitment to sustainability.

Located near the main entry to the campus on a sloping site, the building functions as a hinge between the formal 1975 Haigis Mall created by Kevin Roche, and the informal and intimate space of historic Stockbridge Way. The building serves as a pathway down the hill through the campus between the two precincts.

To create a center space of collaboration, a coiling and rising band of studios, faculty offices and classrooms surrounds a skylit Commons for gathering and presentations. Above the Commons, studios and offices embrace a contemplative green roof terrace, outdoor classroom, and experimental growing space for the landscape department. The slope of the site creates a tall four-story façade on the downhill side facing the mall inviting the community into the building. On the uphill side, a three-story façade fits comfortably among the smaller historic buildings.

The goals for the Design Building were to create an environment of collaborative research and teaching, to integrate the building with its landscape and campus open space system, and to celebrate a shared commitment to sustainability.

The building’s multi-disciplinary program, organized around an interior courtyard of exposed timber and an exterior landscaped courtyard and outdoor classroom, will foster collaboration across the disciplines of architecture, building technology, landscape architecture, and regional planning. With a glue-laminated wood frame, floor slabs of composite, exposed cross-laminate timber (CLT) plank and cast-in-place concrete, the Design Building will be a demonstration of leading-edge timber engineering; a concept informed by the school’s current research in building technology.

The Design Building will incorporate a high-performance metal-clad building envelope together with a coursed ashlar base of local bluestone integrated with a landscape that makes extensive use of native plants and paving materials. The project is intended to demonstrate the latest sustainable design practices and serve as a model for the integration of campus landscape and architecture. The design is targeted for LEED Gold Certification and is scheduled for completion in 2017.
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