Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex

Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex

Project Overview

Target LEED Certification: V3 SILVER
Completed: In Construction
Architect/Engineer: William Rawn
Project Manager:  Andy Soles

Project Purpose

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will build a new $177 million residential and teaching complex in the heart of the campus to serve Commonwealth Honors College. The facility will be one of the best public university complexes of its kind in the nation, and include 1,500 beds, nine classrooms, faculty residences along with space for gathering, advising and administration of the program.

The new living/learning facility will be erected on the east side of Commonwealth Avenue between the Recreation Center and the Boyden Gymnasium. Plans call for buildings ranging from four to six stories arranged around a series of courtyards. The complex will open in the fall of 2013.

Commonwealth Honors College currently serves about 3,000 students in 88 majors. It provides an intellectually challenging honors curriculum, creates a community of scholars and helps prepare future leaders by providing an academic avenue for highly motivated students to delve deeply into their studies. It is also the only such school in the region to provide a four-year honors course of study that includes a highly demanding six-credit honors capstone project. The college plans to gradually increase its incoming classes from 485 this fall to 600 per year.

Priscilla M. Clarkson, dean of Commonwealth Honors College, said this new complex will improve an already excellent program. "Commonwealth Honors College is the premier honors college in New England serving the greatest number of students in the largest number of majors," Clarkson said.  "This new complex will serve as a visible representation of the commitment of this campus to academic excellence and will help attract even more students to the program."

This project is being designed in accordance with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Green Building Guidelines.

Sustainability Features

The previously developed site located on the University of Massachusetts main campus at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Hicks Way is within the community connectivity compliance area as previously established by the University Green Building Committee. Compliance requires a residential area and 10 basic services, as defined by LEED, to be within .5 miles of the project building.

As part of the core campus the site is in close proximity, (.25 miles or less) to multiple bus stops for campus shuttle buses.

The site is easily reached by bicycle. A minimum of 15% of the dormitory residents shall have access to interior, secure bike storage. Additional exterior bike racks will be provided for use by students, staff and faculty utilizing the Commonwealth College facilities.

The project consists of a group of interconnected buildings creating a series of landscaped courtyards which provide open space areas. The exterior spaces will contain outdoor gathering spaces and sustainable plantings that do not require irrigation. The goal is to increase the pervious cover above existing levels and decrease storm water runoff levels by 25%. Strategies under consideration to reduce the runoff rates include rain garden areas, subsurface detention/infiltration and pervious pavers

Potable water use will be reduced by specifying low flow and high efficiency plumbing fixtures throughout the buildings. The design team is incorporating 1.28gpf toilets, .5gpm or .125gpm urinals, .5gpm lavatory faucets and 1.5gpm showers.

Natural ventilation will be used in conjunction with the mechanical systems. The majority of the dorm rooms, multi-purpose rooms, student lounges, classrooms and offices will have operable windows.

Extensive metering is anticipated for this project to ensure a constant understanding of its energy and water consumption levels.

The project has establish a goal of recycling or repurposing 75% of construction and demolition waste. This coincides with the University's committment to waste reduction.

Indoor air quality is of primary concern for the students, faculty and employees who will occupy these buildings. The contractor will be directed to prepare, submit and implement an Indoor Air Quality plan. The plan shall include implementing either a building flush-out or air quality testing prior to occupancy. All adhesives and sealants, paints coatings, carpeting materials and hard surface manufactured flooring shall meet Low VOC criteria. To minimize indoor pollutants, chemical use areas such as janitors closets shall be ventilated separately from adjacent spaces and walk off mats will be installed at all regularly used building entrances.

The lighting controls include daylight dimming and vacancy sensors. Thermostats are planned for each dorm room, student lounge and office at a minimum.

Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex under construction
Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex Exterior Front Under Construction
Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex Exterior Front
Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex Map