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UMass Design Building

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. The building also forms a green roof terrace, a contemplative space shared by the studios and faculty and a potential experimental space for the landscape department. The slope of the site creates a tall four-story façade on the west facing the mall, and the rising structure invites the community into the building and reveals the activities within. The east side of the building faces a series of smaller historic buildings along Stockbridge Way, and its three story façade fits comfortably into this context.

UMass Design Building

The building is located at the primary vehicle arterial of campus, between North Pleasant Street and the historic Stockbridge Road. Through its careful site selection, the Design Building acts as an extension of the campus arts quad, connecting the Brutalist Fine Arts Center to the west, with the Studio Arts Building to the south. The Design Building is also flanked by Clark Hall to the north and Fernald Hall to the east, linking the arts and sciences.

The overall building form acts as a bridge, connecting the Fine Arts Center to the historic Stockbridge Way district. The massing begins on the east side as a three-story structure, reflecting the smaller, intimate scale of Fernald Hall and the Franklin Dining Commons. The form gradually rises and terminates in a four-story structure on the west side, embracing the Fine Arts Center across North Pleasant Street.

Rainwater is collected on the roof of the Design Building and channeled off of the east side of the building into two sloped, linear channels called bioswales. The bioswales collect, cleanse, and infiltrate stormwater naturally onsite, as opposed to conventional underground sewer systems. The sides and bottom of the bioswales are lined with native vegetation, soil, and rock to filter stormwater and remove harmful pollutants from surface runoff.

Bike - Bicycle racks are located at the east and west main building entrances to promote alternative transportation and reduce dependency on motorized vehicle transport. Dedicated shower and changing facilities are provided on the first, second, and third floors of the building for students, faculty, and staff who bike to work.

The construction manager and waste hauler tracked all waste diversion throughout construction, saving over 75% of debris from landfill. The project team implemented an indoor air quality (IAQ) plan during construction and before occupancy to ensure worker health, and protect absorptive building materials stored onsite. Air testing was conducted prior to occupancy to verify that proper IAQ procedures were followed throughout construction.

While the building is primarily timber frame, steel accounts for roughly 10% of all structural elements. The second story is cantilevered out several feet beyond the first, supported by a series of steel beams with wood cladding. The second, third, and fourth stories transition from the curtain wall to a panelized rainscreen system. Vertical copper anodized aluminum panels are affixed to the exterior metal wall studs via a fiberglass clip system. These clips create an internal channel, and allow the exterior panels to slide onto the structural system. The panels are interspersed with narrow, vertical expanses of glass.

The outer solar screen shade is comprised of a perforated, UV-resistant material designed to protect interior spaces from direct sunlight and glare. The solar screen mediates exposure and filters natural light into spaces, while still allowing views to the outdoors. The solid, inner blackout shade completely blocks out all daylight exposure when darkness is desired for conferences and presentations.

Lecture halls, classrooms, and conference rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual systems, including 4k resolution projectors, large flat screen monitors, speakers, and integrated cameras for lecture capture. These devices provide students and professors with a wide range of new opportunities for teaching and learning. The building is designed to accommodate both present and future technologies as A/V standards evolve.

Building environments have a significant impact on human and environmental health, worker productivity, and overall sustainability. Based on extensive industry research focused on building maintenance and operations, technology and cleaning science, UMass Physical Plant Custodial Services has identified the best tools, products and practices for maintaining the Design Building that protect human health and the environment.

The second and third stories of the building encase the central atrium. Classrooms, offices, and conference rooms are located in the south and east wings of the building, with studios, computer labs, and research spaces on the north and west. Common areas with seating are interspersed throughout corridors to encourage interactions and collaboration between students and faculty from all three academic programs.

Take a look inside of the secondary stair shafts located in the northwest and southeast corners of the building. These stairwells are comprised entirely of cross-laminated timber, as opposed to concrete and steel.

The energy savings achieved on this project are the result of a collaborative team effort based on integrated design meetings, iterative energy analysis and simulation, and project coordination throughout each design phase. Per LEED and Massachusetts Stretch Code standards, the building was required to meet a 20% energy cost savings improvement over the baseline design.

The built, optimized design well exceeds this target, and is anticipating a 50% reduction in energy use. The Design Building is predicted to have a total site energy use intensity (EUI) of 43 kBTU/SF/year, compared against an EUI of 62 kBTU/SF/year for the baseline design.

The lighting design incorporates high efficiency fluorescent and LED light fixtures, and is targeting a 43% reduction in lighting power density compared to the interior lighting power allowance for a baseline building. In the majority of spaces, lighting operates using motion-based occupancy sensors. Perimeter spaces include daylight dimming controls, which automatically adjust artificial light levels based on natural daylight. Individual lighting and thermal comfort controls provide a wide range of adjustment for occupants.

The system is remotely monitored and controlled in real-time through the cloud by View Glass, using intelligent predictive controls. However, occupants always have full override control over these presets within the building. On the user side, windows can be controlled using a push button wall panel, dedicated mobile application, or by the Physical Plant through the BAS. Together, all of these features provide users with a high level of settings customization and control, down to each individual window in the system.

We hope you have enjoyed your green building tour of the Design Building. If you have any questions or feedback, please call Facilities & Campus Services at (413)-545-6401, or email To learn more about sustainability efforts at UMass, visit us online at Sustainable UMass and Campus Planning. Come back to see us again soon!

Intended to demonstrate the latest sustainable design practices and serve as a model for the integration of campus landscape and architecture, the new four-story Design Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) academic building in the U.S. and one of the first institutional buildings in the Northeast to use a mass timber structure and was completed in January 2017.

At the conceptual stage of the Design Building project, the WoodWorks Products Council undertook a preliminary life cycle assessment (LCA) to demonstrate the significant environmental benefits associated with the wood option being considered. Once the decision was made to use wood, WoodWorks provided ongoing technical assistance and support related to the complete LCA of the final design undertaken by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in cooperation with the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. It is the first LCA to examine the impact of cross-laminated timber on a North American project.

The design provides a centrally located two-story commons for group activities, and is surrounded by studios, classrooms, workshops, and offices. The first floor also contains a large meeting room, fabrication and materials testing shops, dining, classroom and research space. The second and third floors contain studios, classrooms and offices, and a smaller fourth floor contains studios. The two-story commons area features the open zipper truss and large skylight. The program space also includes a material testing lab.

The designers of the project were Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects of Boston, Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects, BVH Integrated Service for Mechanical and Electrical engineering, and Equilibrium Consulting from Vancouver B.C. Canada as the structural designers.

Located along North Pleasant Street, students and other community members can see the new building, named after retired Massachusetts Congressman and former University of Massachusetts chemistry professor, John W. Olver. Encapsulating 87,500 gross square feet, the four-story building, designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates of Boston, includes a rooftop garden, a large central atrium, several classrooms, multiple studio spaces and the Post & Bean Café.

The use of wood is a significant factor in setting this building apart from other works of contemporary architecture. Senior arboriculture major Justin Hailey was enthused about this aspect of the building. 041b061a72


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