John W. Olver Design Building
John W. Olver Design Building

John W. Olver Design Building

Recent Awards

AIA COTE Top Ten Award 2020
Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award 2018
Chicago Athenaeum, Green Good Design Award 2018
Wall Street Journal Best Architecture of 2017
AIA New England Merit Award 2019
World Architects Building of the Year 2017
World Architecture News - Sustainable Buildings 2018
World Architecture News, Wood Award Finalist 2017
BSA Sustainable Design Honor Award 2018
BSA Interiors Award 2018
BSA Honor Award 2017
Wood Design & Buildings Magazine Award 2018
DNA Design Awards Paris, Honorable Mention 2019
The Plan Award - Finalist 2018

Project Description

The four-story, 87,200GSF John W. Olver Design Building (ODB) is located on the southern portion of parking Lot 62 immediately to the north of Studio Arts Building.  It houses three academic programs from three separate colleges in a single facility: Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of Architecture from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the Building Construction Technology program from the College of Natural Sciences.  The total project cost was $52 million. 

The project exemplifies the University's commitment to sustainable and innovative design and the pedagogic value of integrating three academic programs.  Thanks to a grant through the 2014 Environmental Bond Bill, the ODB also serves as a demonstration of new and innovative wood construction technologies.

The ODB integrates the latest wood technologies including a structural system consisting of exposed heavy engineered timber and cross laminated timber (CLT) decking and shear walls.  An elegant "zipper truss" spans the two-story high building commons space.  The exterior cladding incorporates a glazed curtain wall system and an aluminum panel rain-screen system.  Exterior landscape consists of active rainwater detention basins and local stone elements extended into the building.

The ODB is a showcase of integrated design that is expressive of today's state-of-the-art building technology.  The design takes the form of a stacked courtyard with a collegial layout that provides a centrally located two-story commons for group activities, and is surrounded by studios, classrooms, workshops, and offices.  The first floor also contains a large meeting room, fabrication and materials testing shops, dining, classroom and research space.  The second and third floors contain studios, classrooms and offices, and a smaller fourth floor contains studios.  The two-story commons area features an open zipper truss and large skylight.  Many program spaces including studios, fabrication shops and offices feature polished concrete floors and exposed structural deck and beams.  It was the design intent that the finishes be limited to reveal various components of the buildings' mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems for teaching purposes.

New instructional technologies include a 3-D fabrication laboratory, a woodshop, and a material testing lab. The building is outfitted with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. The studio spaces provide ample space for design students to work in combine studios mixing both architecture and landscape architecture students together. The building also features a café and extensive exhibition and pinup spaces.

The designers of the project were Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects of Boston, Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects, BVH Integrated Service for Mechanical and Electrical engineering, and Equilibrium Consulting from Vancouver B.C. Canada as the structural designers.  The project was financed through the University of Massachusetts Building Authority.  Construction began in March of 2015, and the building was occupied in January of 2017.

In 2017, the building was officially named the John W. Olver Design Building in honor of the retired Congressman and former UMass Amherst chemistry professor.