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Facilities Planning

Building a Better UMass Amherst

Artist's rendering of the ISB interior.

Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex

Project Description:

(Copy courtesy of Ed Blaguszewski, Office of News & Media Relations)

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will build a new $186.5 million residential and teaching complex in the heart of the campus to serve Commonwealth Honors College. The facility will be one of the best public university complexes of its kind in the nation, and include 1,500 beds, nine classrooms, faculty residences along with space for gathering, advising and administration of the program.

The new living/learning facility will be erected on the east side of Commonwealth Avenue between the Recreation Center and the Boyden Gymnasium. Plans call for buildings ranging from four to six stories arranged around a series of courtyards. The complex will open in the fall of 2013.

Commonwealth Honors College currently serves about 3,000 students in 88 majors. It provides an intellectually challenging honors curriculum, creates a community of scholars and helps prepare future leaders by providing an academic avenue for highly motivated students to delve deeply into their studies. It is also the only such school in the region to provide a four-year honors course of study that includes a highly demanding six-credit honors capstone project. The college plans to gradually increase its incoming classes from 485 this fall to 600 per year.

Priscilla M. Clarkson, dean of Commonwealth Honors College, said this new complex will improve an already excellent program. "Commonwealth Honors College is the premier honors college in New England serving the greatest number of students in the largest number of majors," Clarkson said.  "This new complex will serve as a visible representation of the commitment of this campus to academic excellence and will help attract even more students to the program." 


The project is owned by the University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA), with project management delegated to the University of Massachusetts

Budget: $186.5 million

Funding source: borrowed through the UMBA

500,000 GSF Total Program Area

114,000 GSF Building Footprint

Targeting LEED Gold

Program Includes:
•    600 First Year Beds
        270 Double Rooms
        60 Single Rooms
•    900 Upper Class Beds
        175 Four-bed Suites
        50 Four-bed Apartments
•    2 Faculty Apartments
•    4 Staff Apartments
•    9 Classrooms
•    Commonwealth Honors College Administration/ Student Services

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