Major Construction Projects on View as Semester Begins

Isenberg Business Innovation Hub
Isenberg Business Innovation Hub
Physical Sciences Building with West Experiment Station
Physical Sciences Building with West Experiment Station
North Chiller awaiting exterior finish
North Chiller awaiting exterior finish
1894 Horse Barn
1894 Horse Barn

Our seemingly ever-changing campus will again offer a somewhat different look to returning students and faculty this fall.

Two new major academic building projects are progressing; a former dormitory is being demolished; a 19th-century barn is being reincarnated; and a new building-sized chiller facility will keep students, faculty and high-tech instruments comfortable on the north side of campus.

Business Innovation Hub

The most obvious change for those returning is the completion over the summer of the steel skeleton of the Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub.

Rising three stories on the plaza side of the Fine Arts Center, the 70,000-square-foot addition expands Isenberg facilities to include colloquium space, space for entrepreneur-in-residence programs and a simulated trading floor all organized around a multi-story atrium.

The striking exterior will be clad in copper.

The addition will accommodate faculty growth, career center recruiting and team-based learning and advising, and the flexible design includes a 5,000-square-foot student commons to serve as a learning and event center.

The Innovation Hub accompanies renovations of select portions of the original 1964 Isenberg building and to the 2002 Harold Alfond addition.

Completion is planned for winter 2018.

Physical Sciences Building

The state-of-the-art Physical Sciences Building (PSB), joined by the reconstructed West Experiment Station, is on target for move-in in April.

The main building roof is on and plumbing and A/C systems are operating.

The project, which began in 2015 with utility construction and upgrades, will provide offices, laboratories, conference space and lab support for the physics and chemistry departments. There will be approximately130 bench positions in the new building.

The layout can accommodate a variety of research facilities, including physics laboratories, computational laboratories, and synthetic chemistry research laboratories. There are no classrooms.

With 82,500 gross square feet (44,225 net), PSB is designed to be reconfigured many times over its life. Among its many specialized features are basement laboratories that are highly insulated against vibration.

West Experiment Station, built in 1887, was dismantled and reconstructed about 20 feet south and 65 feet west of is original position using its original brick and stone facade. Now connected to PSB, its 12,300 square feet will provide offices and for physics faculty and graduate students whose labs will be in the big building.

Site work for PSB, including sidewalks and landscaping, is underway. Construction fencing will be moved or removed late in the fall.


The now-empty four-story administrative building at Thatcher Road and North Pleasant Street, which was built in 1960 as a dormitory, is coming down this fall.

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) moved from to temporary quarters on the second floor of Bartlett Hall, and Mental Health Crisis response has relocated to New Africa House.

College of Education offices moved to the former Mark’s Meadow School, and landscape architecture and regional planning has moved to the new Design Building.

Fences are in place around the site and demolition will begin in mid- to late September. By Dec. 1, the area will be leveled and stabilized for the winter.

The next use for the site is as a parking lot–at least in part. University officials are seeking suggestions from the campus community for enhancements to share the space.

North Chiller

Rising 65 feet to the top of its cooling towers, this new building on the west side of E-Lab II will provide chilled water service to the engineering quadrant of campus and beyond.

In addition to air conditioning, the plant fulfills critical chilled water needs for PSB and the technically focused north end of campus, whether to cool a laser, temper a chemical reaction or maintain strict environmental conditions.

The chiller also serves as a “visual learning” tool, with ground-level glazing that provides a view of the workings inside.

Currently operating, the facility is scheduled for final completion by mid-December.

Horse Barn

Built in 1894 and last used by the UMass Amherst Police Department for its mounted patrol more than a decade ago, the Grinnell Way horse barn will be reborn at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture’s Agricultural Learning Center just north of the main campus.

The foundation is ready on the North Pleasant Street site of former Wysocki Farm, where the Queen Anne style structure will reappear as a barn supporting student agricultural activities.

Although planned with limited utilities, it will have a heated, handicapped-accessible bathroom. The reconstruction is expected to be completed by mid-November.

Students in the Student Farming Enterprise program will use the barn to process the approximately 75,000 pounds of food produced by the farm each year.

The university kept as much as possible of the original post-and-beam structure of the barn, but age, decades of pest residue and many coats of lead paint made much of it unusable.

To retain the exterior appearance from 1894, cupolas are being refurbished and windows and doors are being replicated to original measurements. The new roof will be metal, as was the original.

Several features, such as a hay trolley system and a grinding machine, have been salvaged and turned over to Preserve UMass, a private advocacy group.

Non-salvageable parts of the barn will be removed and the Grinnell Way site regraded by mid-September.