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Southwest Perspective

UMass Project Manager
Andrew Soles
UMBA Project Manager
Designer / Architect
William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
Construction Manager
Dimeo Construction Company
June 2011 - August 2013
157 Commonwealth Avenue
Amherst, MA 01003-9253

The $192 million, 512,000 S.F. Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community (CHCRC) provides a living and working environment for the UMass Honors Program. The project combines academic and residential components to create a true living and learning community. Students live and take classes in one location, integrating social life with their academic programs.

The complex is comprised of seven buildings organized around a series of open courtyards. Facilities include 1,500 student beds, two faculty residences, nine seminar classrooms, program administration offices, communal lounge spaces, and a 24/7 café. The project brings together all classes of students through a mix of unit types, including 600 beds of traditional singles and doubles for freshmen, and 900 beds of suites and apartments for upperclassmen.

The Commonwealth Honors College serves approximately 3,000 students in 88 majors. It provides an intellectually challenging honors curriculum, fosters a community of scholars, and helps prepare future leaders by providing an academic avenue for highly motivated students to delve deeply into their studies. The CHCRC is the largest capital project in campus history, and considered one of the best public university complexes of its kind in the nation. The project was completed in the fall of 2013, and is Certified LEED Silver.



Sustainable Sites​

  • Walkable to restaurants, fitness centers, a bank, and other community services
  • Easy access to the PVTA campus bus system
  • Bike storage with shower and changing facilities onsite
  • 14% of parking is reserved for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Compact building footprints maximize open green space
  • Light-colored roofs and hardscaping surfaces reduce the heat island effect

Water Efficiency

  • Achieved an average 36% reduction in potable water use across the entire complex via low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Drought-tolerant landscaping utilizes natural irrigation and creates outdoor gathering spaces for students
  • Stormwater management plan increases pervious cover to decrease runoff rate and quantity

Energy & Atmosphere

  • Cut overall energy use by 27% through an improved building envelope, high performance thermal windows and curtain walls, low lighting power density, and multi-level lighting systems
  • Expansive windows provide maximum daylight and minimize the need for artificial lighting

Materials & Resources

  • Diverted 84% of construction wastes from landfill
  • 25% of new construction materials utilize recycled content
  • 16% of building materials were extracted, processed, and manufactured regionally

Indoor Environmental Air Quality

  • Developed and implemented an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Plan during construction and pre-occupancy
  • Low-VOC emitting flooring, paints, adhesives, and sealants
  • Individual lighting and thermal comfort controls enable occupants to make adjustments for maximum comfort
  • Mechanically ventilated spaces utilize energy recovery, with natural ventilation in dorms and apartments
  • Chillers with variable frequency drive (VFD) modulate air and water flow to meet system demand



Green Building Brochure

Click here to access an interactive green building brochure for the Commonwealth Honors College.

LEED Project Dashboard

Click here to view LEED project score information and statistics for the Commonwealth Honors College.

LEED Project Scorecard

Click here to view the official LEED project scorecard for the Commonwealth Honors College.


Photo Gallery

Aerial Overview

North Perspective

South Perspective

Roots Cafe


Common Area

East Perspective

North Perspective

West Perspective


Images 1-2, 8, and 9 by Robert Benson Photography, courtesy of William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. Images 3, and 5-7 by Don Treeger, courtesy of The Replublican. Images 4 and 10 courtesy of Site Design.


UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College



Commonwealth Honors College Looks to the Future



Commonwealth Honors College Update



Commonwealth Honors College Construction Time Lapse



About Commonwealth Honors College





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