Volunteer Effort to Improve Entrance to Bartlett Hall Under Way at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - Construction has begun on a project to improve the west entranceway to Bartlett Hall at the University of Massachusetts. The work is the result of a collaborative effort between the UMass Arts Council, department of landscape architecture and regional planning, Fine Arts Center, physical plant department, Stockbridge School, and the University Gallery.

Maren Brown, program director of the UMass Arts Council, says the project came about as a result of the council''s desire to clean and move the steel sculpture "Playfully Nodding to Its Fall" (fabricated in 1983 by former art student Steve Oakley) to Bartlett from its original site on the west edge of the Campus Pond.

Brown explains that enhancing the entrances to buildings is a priority in the Campus Master Plan, so the effort to move the sculpture also incorporated improvements to the entrance of Bartlett Hall. Bartlett, completed in 1960, houses offices and classrooms for the English, philosophy, women''s studies, art history, and journalism departments, as well as the New Students Program, the University Writing Program, and the Bachelor''s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) Program.

"Dean Cardasis, of the department of landscape architecture and regional planning, volunteered to design a site which would place the sculpture into a more useful and aesthetically cohesive setting," says Brown. "He then garnered the support of the Stockbridge School and the project was incorporated into three student construction laboratories. The physical plant department enthusiastically offered its assistance as well." As a result of the donated services, says Brown, labor and design costs for the project are minimal, keeping its overall cost very low.

Cardasis says a sunken area will be created in front of Bartlett defined by sitting walls and shallow terraces that will provide a kind of courtyard for the sculpture. "Artistically, it will explore the relationship between an object – the sculpture – and an outdoor space," he says, "Ultimately what we''re trying to do is make the space more useful as well as more beautiful."

In addition to providing a more suitable location for the sculpture, Brown says, "When completed this project will also provide an inviting ''outdoor classroom'' for readings and other suitable outdoor gatherings and a comfortable place to sit and read, eat, or socialize."

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the semester.