AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst today dedicated a new, $26.5 million Studio Arts Building, providing a striking new home for a variety of programs formerly scattered across campus. The event also marked the 50th anniversary of the university’s art department.
Chancellor Robert C. Holub said, “The Studio Arts Building’s handsome design makes for an outstanding landmark at the entrance to campus, and it provides a setting that cultivates the creative spirit, talent and pursuit of excellence so evident among our faculty and students.”
Joel W. Martin, dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, observed, “It’s a new day for UMass Amherst and the region. The campus has gained a state-of-the-art facility to support the creation of new art, to nurture new artists, and perhaps to foster new forms of art entirely. This gateway building will serve as a great talent magnet, bringing in the best faculty and students to Massachusetts for periods of intense work and development and sending them out to enhance the Commonwealth’s creative economy and overall vision of possibilities.”
The 47,000-square-foot building stands on the east side of North Pleasant Street, at the corner of North Pleasant and Infirmary Way, in close proximity to the Fine Arts Center. The new building is designed to meet the needs of painting, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics with fully equipped instructional studios, individual and group studios and space for presentation and review of student projects. It is organized around a central common area that serves as the primary entrance point into the building. This common area will also be a gathering space for students and faculty, and it serves as a venue for special events such as art shows and guest lectures.
Additional features include natural light and open space studios; outdoor patio work spaces; advanced ventilation systems; flexible instructional studios for painting, sculpture, and ceramics; faculty and graduate student studio space; a central location for photography; a high-end digital and computer graphics studio, and large teaching studios and lecture rooms. The building used sustainable building materials, operable windows for natural ventilation, and a variety of measures to conserve energy and water.
Joining Holub and Martin at the dedication were David MacKenzie, executive director of the University of Massachusetts Building Authority; state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg; state Rep. Ellen Story; Edward Collins, a UMass trustee; alumnus Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, and Graham Gund, the building’s architect.
In addition to Friday’s dedication ceremony, a series of celebratory events are scheduled for Saturday. They include:
• An open house at the Studio Arts Building from noon to 4 p.m.
• An alumni barbeque from 1-3 p.m. in the new building’s courtyard
• A 50th anniversary toast at 2 p.m. for art department founder Paul F. Norton
• A studio art reception at Herter Art Gallery from 4-6 p.m.
In addition to providing a state-of-the-art facility, the building project also served another important purpose. It was the catalyst for making safety and aesthetic improvements to the east side of campus. To accommodate the building and address some traffic and pedestrian conflicts, the western end of Clark Hill Road has been realigned. In addition, there is an extension of the redesigned pedestrian path system for the south and east sides of the Fine Arts Center.
The building was designed by the Gund Partnership Inc. of Cambridge, and the contractor is Daniel O’Connell’s Sons Inc. of Holyoke. Funding for the facility comes from monies borrowed through the UMass Building Authority.