Campus Planning: A division of Facilities & Campus Services







The $26.5 million, 51,000 S.F. Studio Arts Building (SAB) consolidates various programs and disciplines under the Department of Art, which were previously scattered across the campus in obsolete facilities. The building contains individual studios for undergraduates, graduates and faculty, along with dedicated instructional studios for digital media, drawing, paintingphotographysculpture, and ceramics. Other components include meeting and gathering space, shops for wood and metal working, space for art critique and exhibition, and administrative offices.

The SAB is designed to foster a multidisciplinary approach to art, which the department has embraced through its evolving curriculum. By housing both upper and lower level studios, the building enhances student collaboration and fosters a strong sense of community amongst the Art Department. All spaces feature state-of-the-art equipment and safety systems to provide a healthy learning and working environment. The building was completed in the fall of 2008 and contains a variety of sustainable features, as described below.

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Sustainable Sites

  • The project team examined three different sites for the SAB. Ultimately, an existing parking lot located at the intersection of North Pleasant Street and Infirmary Way was chosen. The building was positioned on the corner closest to the junction to frame a key campus entry point and act as a gateway to UMass Amherst. Together, the SAB, adjacent Design Building, and Fine Arts Center form the campus arts district.
  • This building is part of a broader master plan effort to ease student foot traffic across campus. A future landscaped pedestrian district is planned to link the arts and sciences and redefine the east side of campus.
  • The park-like exterior design features a variety of outdoor studio and event spaces, including an amphitheater that overlooks changeable sculpture plinths.
  • Light-colored roofing material with a high solar reflectance index (SRI) helps to reduce the heat island effect.

Water Efficiency

  • Landscaping with drought-tolerant, native plant species requires minimal maintenance and no permanent irrigation systems.
  • Stormwater is collected onsite via pavement and roofs, and stored underground in a 3,000 gallon cistern. This retention strategy regulates water flow into the drainage system, reducing the potential for overflow at the campus pond.
  • The building reduces indoor potable water consumption using solar-powered, low gallon per flush (GPF) toilets and urinals with automatic flush sensors, and hands-free lavatory faucets.

Energy & Atmosphere

  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are monitored and controlled in real-time using the Johnson Controls Metasys™ Building Automation System (BAS). Some devices are also equipped with specialized alarms to alert management when systems are either malfunctioning, or consuming excess energy
  • Room adjacencies were determined according to their ventilation and energy requirements to improve energy efficiency. Due to the wide range of art activities which the SAB supports, exhaust and ventilation systems provide a high air exchange rate to minimize exposure to chemical byproducts and contaminants.
  • Energy recovery units equipped with variable frequency drive and premium motors regain 75-85% of the heat from exhaust air, and utilize this energy to preheat incoming cold supply air. Chilled and hot water pumps further contribute to the building’s high energy efficiency.
  • Nearly all interior spaces provide natural daylight and views to the outdoors. South-facing windows are equipped with fixed exterior louvered shading devices designed to allow winter sun into the building, whilst protecting the building from glare and solar heat gain issues during the summer.
  • Occupancy sensors detect motion and automatically turn off lights when rooms are unoccupied

Materials & Resources

  • During construction, waste materials were collected and recycled whenever possible to reduce the amount of debris sent to landfills.
  • The art activities that this facility supports can produce hazardous and toxic waste. The building participates in the Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Reuse and Exchange Program, which recycles and reuses specific chemicals, and stores only small quantities in the building. This system limits environmental and health concerns, while also reducing operational costs. As a bonus incentive, EH&S provides all chemicals for free in exchange for participation in the program.
  • The project team saved and reused existing pavers previously installed in front of the Hills academic building for exterior areas. While this required some extra care and effort, it reduced the amount of landfill-bound material and raw materials that would be required to produce and transport additional brick.
  • Concrete floors contain fly ash, a recycled byproduct of coal and oil combustion, as an alternative to traditional Portland cement. Fly ash improves concrete workability, and reduces the amount of water required during mixing.
  • Materials and details of the Studio Arts Building were chosen to reflect commonly used campus elements, including red brick with punched window openings, white trim details, chimneys, and sloped roofs.

Indoor Environmental Air Quality

  • The contractors implemented an Indoor Air Quality Management Plan during construction to reduce dust and fumes emitted inside and outside of the building
  • Operable windows throughout the building provide natural ventilation when weather permits, and a manual method for evacuating toxic fumes. Window openings are strategically placed to enhance user comfort and support the connection between indoor and outdoor workspaces.
  • The facility is equipped with ventilation panels, emergency showers, and flammable/toxic material storage compartments to ensure personal safety.
  • Grilles, grates, and walk-off mats are located at building main entrances to reduce the influx of dirt and particulates and facilitate healthy indoor air quality.
  • Concrete floors are low-VOC emitting and coated with a clear protective finish for easy maintenance via non-toxic cleaning products.
  • CO2 sensors monitor room occupancy levels and regulate the ventilation air flow rate accordingly to maintain optimal indoor air quality.

Innovation In Design

  • The building’s v-shaped plan is organized around a central glass commons cube which serves as a flexible space for gathering, exhibitions, and special events. Museum-style hanging walls are used to display artwork. Alternatively, large installations can be suspended from the ceiling using an integrated steel track system.
  • The ground floor serves primary teaching and shop functions. Workshops feature direct patio access for additional outdoor workspace, with designated trash and loading areas. Painting, sculpture, and ceramics instructional studios are conveniently located for non-major and undergraduate students. The building’s street level occupies a half floor of the west wing, and provides facilities for photography and printmaking. The second floor houses a combination of single and double occupancy studio spaces for faculty and graduate students.
  • The entire building is designed to provide maximum flexibility for artists. Tall, open studios and workshops accommodate a wide range of different types and scales of artwork. Plywood backed sheetrock walls facilitate easy pinning and hanging of work for display and critique. Classrooms and studios provide spatial freedom through sliding and rotating wall partitions, modern audiovisual (A/V) technologies, and ceiling track systems for moving large installations.

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Tour of the UMass Amherst Studio Arts BuildingTour of the UMass Amherst Studio Arts Building



New UMass Arts BuildingNew UMass Arts Building




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