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UMass Amherst Facilities Planning

New Academic Classroom Building


Temporary Walkway East of the Student Union Now Closed

Construction site fence lines at the New Academic Classroom Building project have begun to change as of Friday, March 8 (see map, above).  

The walkway on the east side of the Student Union (the westerly side of the construction site) is now closed.  The temporary pedestrian route from points to and from Hasbrouck/Campus Center in the north and Du Bois/Student Union in the south are no longer open to through traffic.

Other upcoming changes include:

Campus Pond Walkway

The walkway across the north end of the Campus Pond will remain closed throughout construction. Walking east-west will require traveling around the Pond at the south end (Fine Arts Center), or traveling through or around Hasbrouck Lab and the Campus Center to the north. In some cases, this may add extra travel time, but we're hoping to minimize that by laying out clear and reliable alternate routes to and from various points on campus.

Project Description

The New Academic Classroom Building (NACB) is the result of a plan developed over the last two years and will provide new state-of-the-art classroom and academic space for the Amherst Campus. This new building will be sited in the center of campus in proximity to the Lincoln Campus Center and Student Union. Its location in the center of campus will not only provide students with convenient access to classrooms but will also create a hub of student activity and enhance other student activity space nearby in the Campus Center and Student Union.

Within the walls of the four story 173,000 sq ft structure, the NACB will provide 2,000 seats of new classroom space as well as space for several academic departments including Communications, Journalism, Linguistics, and Film Studies. The new building will transform the undergraduate learning experience at UMass. The University has established an aggressive schedule to respond to the planned enrollment increases over the next decade. As part of the quest for excellence spearheaded by Chancellor Holub's strategic plan for academic and research transformation, the quality of classroom facilities need to be improved as one of the first steps in implementing the plan.

As one of the largest research universities in New England, the UMass flagship campus is competing regionally and nationally for top faculty and students. This requires classrooms and lecture halls that meet the high expectations of today's students that some educators refer to as "digital natives".   Classrooms are being designed to be fully equipped with everything from whiteboards and audiovisual devices to educational technologies that did not exist two years ago.  Classroom types are planned that will encourage interactive and team learning, critical thinking, and trans-disciplinary learning and research.

In addition to digitally enabled learning spaces that are planned to foster team learning, half of the interior space - about 59,000 sq ft - in the building will be a new home for three academic departments: Communication, Journalism, Linguistics, and Film Studies.  In addition to department faculty offices other spaces being planned are studios and specialized rooms for TV broadcasting and production, editing rooms, film screening rooms, computer classrooms, speech perception and auditory phonetics labs.

Equally important in transforming the campus is the landscape and site plan.  Located at the north end of Campus Pond, the building will be a visible beacon of campus improvements that can be seen from North Pleasant Street and from all sides of the Pond.  Entrances to the building will provide welcome to passengers from the PVTA stop at the east entrance, pedestrians on the main walkway across the pond's north side and for heavily traveled walkways near the Campus Center and Student Union.

Few campuses boast a large pond as their iconic center and this modern new building at its edge will reflect the spirit of sustainability and natural environment that are part of the planning and engineering design.  With a target LEED rating of gold, the building will contain advanced energy systems and controls to make this one of the lowest energy consuming buildings of its type on campus.   At this location, students and faculty can walk to the building from any location in the campus core in less than ten minutes.  Located at the north end of the campus pond, near the Campus Center, Student Union, and Library, the NACB is designed to help create a truly active center for a campus. The turnover of 3,600 students each hour of the class day will make this site and the buildings around it the natural center that the campus has envisioned through its planning process.


LEED Certification.  The NACB is targeting LEED Gold certification, which exceeds the minimum required LEED Silver by the ACUPCC and LEED Plus standard set forth by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Green Roof.  15,000SF of the NACB roof is available for planting hardy native plants. This green roof will provide an educational opportunity to the campus community, reduce the heat island effect, create a pleasing view for the surrounding buildings, absorb CO2 , reduce glare and retain 1,825 CF of storm water.  Additionally, a green roof will protect the roof membrane from the elements, including UV light, extending the life expectancy of the membrane and leading to lower life cycle costs. An extensive green roof with some type of sedum which requires very little maintenance is the expected type of green roof for the NACB.

Sustainable Landscaping and Site Development.  Surface run-off will be mitigated by rain gardens. Sustainable landscaping will consist of low-maintenance native plantings. For  the Innovation in Design Credit, four trees will be saved and relocated. Vegetation that must be removed will be repurposed or composted.

Energy Use Reduction.   Reduced Energy usage is a top priority with an innovative heat recovery wheel and cooling coil to semi-condition ventilated air within the dedicated ventilation system.

Natural Ventilation.  The NACB will utilize the stack effect to naturally ventilate the West Gallery.

Water Conservation.  Water Consumption in the building will be reduced with dual-flush toilets and low flow urinals. Plumbing fixtures provided in accordance with the goals and initiatives of LEED. Roof run-off or effluent from the Town of Amherst's waste water treatment plant will be used for irrigation.

Reduce Food/Beverage Packaging Waste.  Reusable water bottles will be encouraged with bottle fillers provided in place of some of the water fountains in the building.  Auxiliary Services programs will educate students on proper waste disposal procedures to minimize environmental impact.

User Awareness and Education. The building occupants will be educated on the proper use of the building, so that it can reach its optimal performance. This will be accomplished through a brochure/manual or website that provides information for regular occupants and maintenance staff.  In addition building signage and an energy dashboard system will target transient building occupants.

Utility Rebate & Incentive Programs.  No natural gas use is anticipated on the NACB, heating is by steam from the Central Cogeneration Plant. UMA and DCAM are pursuing a system by system rebate approach through WMECO's energy performance rebate program.

Pond Restoration.  Appropriate emergent wetland vegetation, improved water quality and creation of new wildlife habitats will improve the health of the pond.

Cogeneration Plant.  100% of the building heating needs will be provided by the campus' central Cogenerational facility. Steam from the Cogenerational Plant will utilized for the absorption chiller to provide chilled water. The Cogenerational Plant will also provide a portion of the NABC's electrical power.

Student Report.  Students will participate in the research, analysis and documentation of the LEED requirements for a project. The students will present their findings through written documentation, project narratives, and presentation boards. Members of the project team will facilitate student learning and vice versa.

Wind Analysis.  CFD modeling and Wind Analysis will be conducted to evaluate wind intensity at the pedestrian level, exhaust re-entrainment for the NACB and surrounding buildings, and microclimate studies in support of a solar chimney/natural ventilation.

Water Re-use.  Surface run-off from precipitation from the 40,000 SF NACB roof will be stored in one 10,000 gallon tank outside the building and potentially used for irrigation. The demand for irrigation at the building site is 1 inch per week during summer months over a landscape area estimated to be 25,000SF. The overall daily demand for the months of May, June, July, August, and September is estimated to be 4,452 gallons per day.

Demand Control Ventilation.  For large classrooms and lobbies/corridors (large open spaces). Ventilation and supply air can be cost effectively mixed prior to the heating coil so that only one air stream is supplied to the space.

Metering.  Metering steam and water entering the building and the condensate leaving building.

Windows.  UMass would like operable windows in offices and public spaces Exterior solar shading on the West Gallery glass to control solar reflection. Shading directs sun to vent heat to outside.


The project is owned and managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM)

Budget: $85 million

Funding sources: $65 million, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Higher Education Bond Bill; $20 million, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Targeting: LEED Gold

Building Includes:

•    60+ rooms
•    2000+ seats
•    Auditoria, classrooms, case study rooms, and group learning environments
•    Shared specialized facilities
•    Program Space for Communications, Journalism, Media, Film Studies, and Linguistics

UMass Project Manager:
Jeff Quackenbush


Barr & Barr

Estimated Construction Timeline:
Construction began in March, 2012; completion is scheduled for the spring of 2014

Click for larger images:


Questions and comments should be directed to Jim Hunt, Communications Manager, at or (413) 577-4767.

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