John W. Olver Design Building Named Building of the Year in Online Poll

John W. Olver Design Building

The John W. Olver Design Building has been named the U.S. Building of the Year in a national online poll conducted by American-Architects.

In results announced Feb. 1, the Design Building won by a large margin, with about 30 percent of the more than 4,000 votes cast. Voters chose from 47 projects that had been selected as American-Architects Buildings of the Week during 2017. Details are online here.

In second place, with about 12.5 percent of the votes, was the Sleeve House in Upstate New York, designed by actual / office. Tied for third with about 6 percent each were the Woodard Residence in Memphis by archimania and the Indianapolis Zoo Bicentennial Pavilion & Promenade by RATIO Architects.

Designed by Leers-Weinzapfel Associates of Boston, the 87,000-square-foot Design Building, which opened in April, is the most technologically advanced cross-laminated timber (CLT) building in the country and one of just two in North America using CLT for wind and seismic resistance. The other is in British Columbia. 

The Design Building features a glued-laminated timber (glulam) column-and-beam frame, glulam brace frame, CLT shear walls, timber-concrete composite floor system, and unconventional cantilevered forms. Its signature exposed “zipper truss” supports the atrium roof and roof garden and New England snow loads.

Wrapped in an envelope of copper-colored anodized aluminum, the facility saves the equivalent of more than 2,300 metric tons of carbon when compared to a traditional energy-intensive steel and concrete building and is a showcase for sustainability.

Olver, a retired congressman and former UMass Amherst chemistry professor, was instrumental in persuading campus officials to adopt the new and innovative technology for the proposed Design Building. He also secured additional state funding based on the building’s value as a demonstration project for mass timber in the region.

The interdisciplinary building is home to three academic units: architecture; building and construction technology; and landscape architecture and regional planning.

The Wall Street Journal named it one of the best new buildings of 2017, and it was honored with an Award of Merit in the Engineering News-Record’s list of New England’s 2017 Best Projects in the Higher Education / Research category.

A 12-page case study of the of the Design Building project is available online here.

American-Architects is a premium network of selected contemporary architects and building professionals, advocating quality in architecture.