Integrative Learning Center is in Operation!

The new Integrative Learning Center at UMass Amherst
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The long awaited Integrative Learning Center (ILC), new home for Communication, Journalism, Linguistics and Film Studies, is now occupied and open for business. Located in the heart of campus in close proximity to the Lincoln Campus Center and Student Union, it not only provides students with convenient access to classrooms, but also creates a hub of student activity to animate these three spaces. Students and faculty can walk to the ILC from any departure point within the campus core in less than ten minutes. With a turnover of 3,600 students each hour during the class day, this site and the buildings around offers a truly lively, natural center that the campus has envisioned through its planning process. 

Housed within the walls of the four-story 150,000 sq. ft. structure are nearly 2,000 seats of classroom space, as well as office space for several academic programs. The ILC will transform the undergraduate learning experience at UMass and help respond to planned enrollment increases over the next decade in accord with the University’s aggressive schedule in preparation for these changes. As one of the largest research universities in New England, the UMass flagship campus is competing regionally and nationally for topnotch faculty and students. This requires classrooms and lecture halls that meet the high expectations of today's students, whom some educators refer to as "digital natives." Digitally-enabled learning spaces  are designed to foster team learning, and classrooms are fully equipped with everything from the back-to-basics chalkboards and audiovisual devices, to educational technologies that did not exist just two years ago. New classrooms better facilitate interactive and team learning approaches, critical thinking, and trans-disciplinary learning and research. The building also houses department faculty offices, studios, and specialized rooms for TV broadcasting and production, editing rooms, film screening rooms, computer classrooms, speech perception and auditory phonetics labs.

Equally as important as the building's program and facilities in transforming the campus is the landscape and site plan. The location at the north end of the Campus Pond allows the building to be a visible beacon on North Pleasant Street and from all sides of the pond, showcasing campus improvements. The new building is strategically sited to preserve valuable open space, and to enhance it by creating a courtyard that connects the ILC with the Campus Center and Student Union. The courtyard includes seating areas and accessible pedestrian walkways. Entrances to the building are situated to provide inviting inlets 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 contemporary building, situated at its edge, reflects the spirit of sustainability and the natural environment that are part of the planning and engineering design, and in keeping with the history of the university. With a target LEED rating of gold, the building contains advanced energy systems and controls to make the ILC one of the lowest energy-consuming buildings of its type on campus.

Sustainability Features

Site Development: Site development and restructuring will help support the ILC's sustainable water management system and invigorate pedestrian thoroughfares. Surface run-off will be mitigated by rain gardens and for the Innovation in Design LEED Credit, four trees were safe-guarded and relocated during beginning phases of construction. Vegetation that was removed has been repurposed or composted, and low-maintenance native plants were established. As part of this project, appropriate emergent wetland vegetation, improved water quality and the creation of new wildlife habitats were established to help improve the health of the pond.

Water Management: Surface run-off from precipitation for the 40,000 sq. ft. ILC roof will be stored in one 10,000 gallon tank outside the building and will potentially be 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 25,000 sq. ft. The overall daily demand each month from May through September is estimated at 4,452 gallons per day. Indoors, plumbing fixtures are installed in accordance with the goals and initiatives of LEED, allowing indoor water consumption to be reduced with dual-flush toilets and low flow urinals, for example.

Green Roof: 15,000 sq. ft. of the ILC roof is planted with hardy native plants, including many varieties of sedum, which can withstand heat and drought. This green roof provides an educational opportunity to the campus community, reduces the Heat Island Effect, creates a pleasing view from surrounding buildings, absorbs CO2, reduces glare and retains 1,825 cu. ft. of storm water. Additionally, the vegetation 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.

Indoor Environmental Air Quality: CFD modeling and Wind Analysis were conducted to evaluate wind intensity at the pedestrian level, exhaust re-entrainment for the ILC and surrounding buildings, and microclimate studies in support of a solar chimney and natural ventilation. The ILC design utilizes the stack effect to naturally ventilate the West Gallery. Operable windows in offices and public spaces, as well as exterior solar shading on the West Gallery glass will help to maintain a comfortable environment and minimize glare. For large classrooms, lobbies, and corridors (large open spaces), ventilation will be implemented. Ventilation and supply air can be cost effectively mixed prior to reaching the heating coil so that only one air stream is supplied to the space. An innovative heat recovery wheel and cooling coil to semi-condition air within the dedicated ventilation system, help to reduce the building’s energy use compared with conventional buildings of its type.

Utility Rebate & Incentive Programs: No natural gas use is anticipated for the ILC. It will be heated by steam from the Central Cogeneration Plant on campus. UMA and DCAM are pursuing a system-by-system rebate approach through WMECO's energy performance rebate program.

Cogeneration Plant: 100% of the building’s heating needs will be serviced by the campus' central Cogenerational facility and steam from the plant will be utilized for the absorption chiller to provide chilled water. The cogeneration plant will also provide a portion of the ILC’s electrical power.

User Awareness and Education: The building occupants will be educated on proper use of the building, aiding it in functioning at its optimal performance. A brochure or manual will provide information for everyday occupants and maintenance staff. In addition, building signage and an energy dashboard system will target transient building occupants. Students will participate in the research, analysis and documentation of the LEED requirements for the project. They will present their findings through written documentation, project narratives, and presentation boards. Members of the project team will facilitate student learning and vice versa.

Waste Management: Reusable water bottles will be encouraged with bottle filling stations provided in place of some of the water fountains in the building. In addition, Auxiliary Services Programs will educate students on proper waste disposal procedures to minimize environmental impact.

Energy Measurement: Steam and water entering the building and the condensate leaving the building will both be metered and recorded as part of an effort to verify the building performs as expected per LEED requirements.

Check out images by Elaine Nord '81 (communication), a freelance photographer who lives in Avon, Connecticut.