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Regional scale landscape planning promotes the thoughtful achievement of human and natural needs while linking edge, node and corridor across multiple scales.

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IDB (Integrated Design Building) Blog


Welcome to our blog about the process and proposals for the new LARP building!  With so much going on and the process moving so quickly, we wanted a way to keep our faithful alumni and future students updated on what is going on.  We’ll post on this blog when we reach big milestones, so keep watching this space!

It’s hard to overestimate what having a new building will mean for LARP. Many of you know that Hills was originally built as a dormitory, and was repurposed for academic life.  It’s had a good run and we’ve all built great memories here, but everyone who visits knows we obviously need an upgrade.  This has become even more pressing in recent years, as mold issues mean that not all of the faculty can even enter the building.  Because of our outstanding faculty we have been quite successful over the years despite Hills.  We’ve always liked to think that the best programs are often in the worst spaces, but I’m not so sure anymore.  I look forward to proving that the best programs can also be in the best spaces. It is invigorating to think about what we will be able to do with a beautiful new space. 

The new building will bring together LARP with Architecture (now a program, but likely to be a department by the time we all move) and Building and Construction Technologies (also currently a program, but likely to merge with Architecture by the big move). 

A few big picture facts:

  • Size of new building: 49,000 gross square foot program area, 80,000 gross building size. 
  • Construction budget: $35 million, although the state has authorized up to $50 million.
  • Key dates:
    • Design phase began in August and continues through Winter 2015
    • Construction will be Spring 2015 through Fall/Winter 2016
    • Move-in Date:  Fall 2016 or Winter 2017

Our architecture team is world class:  Leers Weinzapfel, with principal Andrea Leers as the lead designer.  You can see examples of their work at:  Our landscape architects are Stephen Stimson Associates,  Stimson is an alumni of the MLA program and has taught in our department.  His firm did the beautiful design which puts green infrastructure to work in UMass’ Southwest concourse. 

With such a big, complicated, fast project UMass got an Owner’s Rep on board early.  We have been very happy with the work of Collaborative Partners in Cambridge MA in keeping us all represented in the process and doing just what their name suggests – encouraging collaboration, but also assuring that we keep moving along. 

The big question is WHERE!  The architects are developing proposals for Lot 62, which is the parking area right across from the Fine Arts Center, or for upgrading and connecting to Clark Hall.  Ultimately the final location is a decision the Chancellor will make.

Ah, but what will happen to Hills, you ask?  It is destined to come down altogether, and become a parking lot.  If we can work it out with the lawyers, we’re dreaming of having an alumni event where for $25 you can swing a sledgehammer at the building once we are all moved out!  That sounds like a party.

This Friday (January 10th) the architects will present the options and their initial designs.  Watch this space for a video of their presentation!  In future blogs we’ll talk more about the building design, the sustainability features, the studio concepts, and the landscape design, maybe reminiscence on Hills and more. 

Happy New Year!  
-Elisabeth Hamin, Head of Department

IDB Presentation video: January 10, 2014
IDB Design

A design team of Leers Weinzapfel Associates, architects, and Stephen Stimson Associates, landscape architects, has been selected, and construction should start in 2015 for occupancy in late 2016.

The Integrated Design Building will be located in the southern end of Lot 62. see campus map

IDB Presentation: April 18, 2014

Here are some links to what the design team has been working on that give a more concrete idea what the IDB will look like when it is completed.

Schematic Design Presentation

Final Presentation, Concept and Design Elements

IDB Presentation: May 2, 2014