University officials last week celebrated the launch of construction of a $95 million New Academic Classroom Building (NACB) that will provide state-of-the-art academic space and create a new hub of student activity near the Campus Center and Student Union. The event was held Oct. 26 in the Student Union Ballroom.
The four-story, 171,500-square-foot building located off North Pleasant Street at the north end of the Campus Pond is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014.
Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy hosted the celebration and touted the new building as a welcomed and much needed addition to the Amherst campus. Subbaswamy was joined by Provost James Staros, and Victor Woolridge, a member of the Board of Trustees. Following the formal event, Subbaswamy hosted a reception where guests viewed architectural renderings of the building that were on display.
“This new building is designed to create at truly active learning center for the campus,” Subbaswamy said. “It will be a visible beacon of campus improvements that meets the high expectations of our students and reflects our commitment to sustainability.”
It has been designed to transform the undergraduate learning experience. The facility will be fully equipped with educational technologies that will encourage interactive and team learning, critical thinking and research. While adhering to the needs of today’s “digital native” students, the complex also reflects the campus’s commitment to sustainability and is designed to meet LEED Gold certification requirements.
The project is funded with $65 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Higher Education Bond Bill, $20 million from UMass Amherst and $10 million from the UMass Building Authority to be used for utility work and replacement of the dike at the Campus Pond.
The NACB will provide 2,000 new classroom seats and will be the new home of the Communication and Linguistics departments and the Journalism and Film Studies programs. Along with department faculty offices, other spaces in the building will include studios and specialized rooms for television broadcasting and production, editing rooms, film screening rooms, computer classrooms and speech perception and auditory phonetic labs.
The building will have a 21,000-square-foot green roof that will be available for planting hardy native plants. This is designed to serve several purposes and to provide an educational opportunity for the campus community. The roof will help insulate the building for heat and sound, create a pleasing view for other campus buildings, reduce glare and retain storm water. The plantings on the roof also will extend the life of the roof by protecting it from ultraviolet light and reducing maintenance costs.
Construction on building also includes restoration work for the Campus Pond that will increase water flow and improve the health and water quality.
Surface run-off from the building site will be mitigated by rain gardens. Sustainable landscaping using low-maintenance native plants has been planned for the exterior and four trees on the construction site will be saved and relocated. Likewise, vegetation on the site that must be removed will be composted or used elsewhere.
The building will also feature water use reduction measures including efficient low-flow bathroom fixtures, efficient plumbing fixtures and other measures that will reduce water use by 35 percent.