University officials celebrated the two-year transformation of South College on Thursday, April 13 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the four-story atrium shared by renovated and new parts of the building.
The facility, which is 67,500 square feet larger than the original 30,000-square-foot building, opened for the spring 2017 semester and provides a new home for the departments of English, philosophy, history of art and architecture, and women, gender, sexuality studies.
The building also houses offices for the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA) and the HFA Advising and Career Center.
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said, “Making sure we arrived at this day has been a campus priority and a key component in our overall university strategic plan. This facility advances our national reputation for excellence and reflects the critical role the arts and humanities play in our institutional mission. This wonderful new resource also symbolizes the capacity of this campus to evolve and grow.”
Julie Hayes, dean of HFA, said, “This combination of old and new is symbolic of the enduring importance of the humanities and arts to this campus and to higher education. Our students and scholars look to the past to discern how people have sought to express, define, and understand the world—and they use this knowledge to inform new ideas, progress, and discovery.”
Also speaking were Patricia Filippone, University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA), and Max Page, professor of architecture and director of Historic Preservation Initiatives at UMass Amherst.
Before the renovation, the South College building had stood since 1886, when it replaced the original South College, which was gutted by fire on the same site in 1885.
Outside the $65 million project, which was financed by UMass Amherst through UMBA, new expansive sidewalks are in place, and historic trees, including the largest and oldest Japanese elm in the U.S., have been preserved.
The new building targets LEED Silver certification with super-efficient heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems, advanced storm water control and extensive use of recycled materials.