Building for a Better Tomorrow
From breaking ground on state-of-the-art facilities to preserving cherished landmarks, UMass Amherst's commitment to creating a robust and forward-thinking campus has grown substantially, with no intention of slowing down.
Over the past decade, sustainability and long-term investments in the commonwealth are the cornerstones of the infrastructure built on the UMass Amherst campus. Buildings erected and projects completed have created space for exploration, new discoveries, community building, and honoring our past. At the same time, these learning hubs and historical landmarks have been renovated and constructed with meticulous consideration to what lies ahead, ensuring our students, staff, and campus community can continue to thrive in the years to come.
Listed below are a few of the many examples in which UMass Amherst has invested in its infrastructure, with a focus on projects completed since 2016. Learn more about all of the infrastructure projects completed, as well as what is in the pipeline, on the university's Design & Construction Management page.
STUDENT UNION RENOVATION
YEAR COMPLETED: 2021
The $62 million Student Union renovation project revitalized the facility as a modern hub for student activity and interaction, reconnecting the building to its surrounding natural landscape. As a "global campus living room," the design embraces student entrepreneurship, organizations, and events to support collaboration, multidisciplinary learning, and leadership.
The Student Union building was originally designed by architect and UMass alumnus Louis Warren Ross in the modernist style, and completed in 1957. Today, the building supports over 30,000 students and 200 registered student organizations.
CAMPUS CORE PROJECT
YEAR COMPLETED: 2021
The Campus Core Utilities, Landscaping, and Accessibility Project was a comprehensive upgrade to the center of campus, from the new Worcester Commons to the Student Union.
The $32 million project included waterproofing underground levels of the Campus Center Garage, utility improvements, new landscape designs, and the re-establishment of Ellis Way as a main pedestrian corridor. Additionally, most pathways in the area were brought into ADA compliance.
YEAR COMPLETED: 2020
While maintaining the operation of the old Worcester Dining Commons, the new 87,000 square-foot building now includes a new retail café, Grab & Go, the campus’s commercial bakery, lounge spaces, and a fitness center. In 2021, Worcester Commons received the Best New Facility Award from Food Management Magazine, an award that recognizes innovative and creative initiatives undertaken by onsite dining operations.
In addition to the new dining commons, which include seating for approximately 800 patrons, the building holds The Commonwealth, a full-service restaurant and bar, as well as the Student Life Suite, a space featuring soundproof music practice rooms, meeting spaces for student groups, and a contemplative area.
Worcester Commons has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, with its construction including electrochromic glass windows to reduce energy needed to heat and cool the building; energy recovery systems to capture heat waste; and locally sourced and recycled building materials.
BUSINESS INNOVATION HUB
YEAR COMPLETED: 2019
With its stunning copper-and-glass exterior, the $62 million Business Innovation Hub wraps around the north and northeast ends of the Isenberg School of Management and architecturally complements the neighboring Fine Arts Center and the John W. Olver Design Building across North Pleasant Street.
The LEED Certified-Gold Hub is highlighted by a multi-story learning commons that can be used for large, all-university gatherings and special functions such as business symposia. Its flexible design accommodates entrepreneur-in-residence programs and experiential learning spaces for students and includes a 5,000-square-foot student common. In additions to classrooms, conference rooms, and faculty and administrative offices, the Hub features a Business Analytics Lab with multiple Bloomberg terminals.
PHYSICAL SCIENCES BUILDING
YEAR COMPLETED: 2018
The Physical Sciences Building (PSB) fosters and expands cutting-edge collaborative learning and research on campus. The 95,000-square-foot building incorporates the reconstructed West Experiment Station, a 19th century agricultural soils research laboratory and one of the university’s most historic buildings. Funding for the $101.8 million project included $85 million from the state and $16.8 million financed by the campus through the UMass Building Authority.
The PSB provides offices, specialized laboratories and approximately 130 laboratory benches for the physics and chemistry departments. The laboratories are constructed in a layout that can be reconfigured many times during the life of the building. Among other fields, PSB supports scientific discovery in material science, condensed matter and nuclear physics, and organic chemistry. The faculty hosted in these facilities have collectively been awarded $127 million in grants and are working on the forefront of science.
The PSB incorporates numerous green building features and has earned Gold LEED certification.
JOHN W. OLVER DESIGN BUILDING
YEAR COMPLETED: 2017
The $52 million, 87,500 square foot John W. Olver Design Building brings together the Architecture, Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning, and Building & Construction Technology programs in one facility to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, research, and learning. The goal was to create an innovative and inspired building that visibly demonstrates environmentally-sensitive design. The LEED Gold-Certified building’s unique cross-laminated timber structural system reduces its carbon footprint and embodies the university’s strong commitment to sustainability.
In 2020, the American Institute of Architecture’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) awarded the John W. Olver Design Building its highest honor, the COTE Top Ten Awards. The COTE jury wrote of the Olver Building, “The space is made possible by an innovative wood truss system showing us how to reach beyond the cross-laminated timber systems to make larger spaces. Its courtyard guarantees views and access to campus to everyone within the building and is well integrated into the larger campus.”
In 2018, the building received the Jury’s Choice for Wood Innovation in the WoodWorks Wood Design Awards, which celebrate excellence in wood building design across the U.S.
OLD CHAPEL RENOVATION
YEAR COMPLETED: 2016
Built in 1885, the Old Chapel is the most iconic and significant historic building on the UMass Amherst campus. Designed by notable architect Stephen C. Earle, and built in 1884 when the school was known as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the building initially served as a multi-purpose facility to accommodate lectures, religious services, a library, and reading room. It later became home to the Minuteman Marching Band in the 1960s, before officially closing its doors in 1996.
The Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, and began a $21 million renovation, addition, and preservation effort to restore the building to its original glory. Now a LEED Gold-Certified building, the revitalized Chapel reopened in 2017 and currently serves students, faculty, and alumni as a venue for performances, receptions, weddings, and gallery exhibitions.
Building for the Future
Learn more about UMass Amherst's commitment to sustainable infrastructure, campus design and planning, and projects on the horizon.