The Design Building has been completed in January 2017 and is now open for business.

Design Building Quick Facts

  • The Design Building is the shared home of the Building and Construction Technology program (in the Department of Environmental Conservation), the Department of Architecture, and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning.
  • It has four floors on 87,500 GSF and cost $52 million ($36 million for construction alone), and construction time was August 2015 – January 2017. This project was supported by the MA State Legislature as a demonstration project for wood structures.
  • Its address is 551 N. Pleasant St. in Amherst, MA 01003.
  • At its core, the Design Building has a contemporary, heavy-timber (“mass timber”) wood structure, consisting of an exposed glulam frame (columns, beams, braces), cross-laminated timber (CLT) and concrete composite floors, and CLT shaft walls (for stairs, elevator, and mechanical shafts). It also features a three-story, folded, grand CLT stair in the atrium.
  • The wood-concrete composite floor system uses technology that was researched right here at UMass by BCT.
  • The 70,000 ft3 of wood used in the Design Building grew in just six minutes (considering all of N. America’s forests). They also removed (sequestered) 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere during growth, which is now permanently stored in the building. This is equivalent to taking 400 cars off the road for one year.
  • This building is the largest and most technologically advanced academic contemporary wood structure in the US. It is also the first in the US to use the wood-concrete composite floor system.
  • At the upper level, the building has a roof garden, which is supported by a long-span wood-steel truss system (a “zipper” truss) that is exposed in the atrium below.
  • Even before its completion, the Design Building was featured in an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
  • Besides the wood structure, this building’s other sustainability features are: LED lighting, motion sensors, ample daylighting, electro-tinting glass, heat-recovery systems, bioswales, rain gardens, low-flow faucets, public transportation acess, and more.

Explore the Design Building

Project Videos:

We have collected construction timelapse videos and other video about the Design Building on this page.

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Construction Photos:

You can find our large collection of construction and project images here.

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Virtual Construction Site Visit:

We have an interactive 360-degree panorama virtual construction site visit tour right here.

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Design Building in the Media

The UMass Design Building has received quite a bit of media attention. We maintain the current list of news items here.

About the Design Building

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Rendered view of the building from across the street (Haigis Mall / FAC area)

Together with our colleagues in the departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP), BCT has been hard at work planning a new home that will co-locate all of us. As announced before, the UMass Building authority has retained renowned Boston-based Architecture firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates (LWA) as the design firm for our new building, the “(Integrated) Design Building” (I)DB at UMass Amherst.

On approximately 87,500 square feet, this building will house classrooms and studios, computer labs, lounges, meeting and teleconferencing rooms, materials-testing lab, green-building lab, wood shop, digital fabrication lab, outdoor work area, departmental admin (Architecture and LARP only), faculty and staff, graduate students, as well as a cafe, exhibit space, library, and function spaces. It will also feature a covered indoor courtyard on the first floor and an outdoor courtyard complete with green roof on the third floor. The image below illustrates the interior “feel” quite well.

Rendered view of the central interior courtyard area
Rendered view of the central interior courtyard area

BCT has been working with the various structural, sustainability and energy consultants to make this building as sustainable as we can, given the project’s budget. For example, this building will feature a glue-laminated wood, cross-laminated timber (CLT) and wood-concrete composite structure (based on BCT research) that replaces the common steel/concrete construction type that is common in the area. This structural system reduces this building’s carbon footprint and maximizes the use of renewable materials. In its landscape, the building is slated to feature rainwater-control features like a partial green roof and bioswales. At this point, the mandated rating target for this building is USGBC’s LEED Gold (v.3) with a possibility of Platinum.

We are all excited to have the opportunity in this building to bring together design and research disciplines that encompass the entire range of the built environment which in turn will enhance research, teaching and learning, and enable a collaborative approach to ideas and current issues.

Donation Opportunities

Are you or your company interested in supporting BCT in our new home? Talk to us about it. This building has many naming opportunities (classrooms, shops, labs, common areas, studios,…) and is a very targeted way for you to reach future builders, project managers, architects, landscape architects and regional planners. Contact Alex Schreyer, BCT Program Director if you would like to start a conversation about this.

Consultants

Project Gallery

Links