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University of Massachusetts Amherst - Integrative Learning Center

Creating academic space inside and out

Amherst, Massachusetts

While university leaders were well aware that they needed to provide more academic space, the question was where and how. Our architectural team tackled this problem by completing two overlapping tracks to ease the space crunch. On one track, we conducted a comprehensive assessment of all existing facilities to determine their attributes and deficiencies. We then identified several areas where improvements could be made to update existing facilities and improve space.

Our second track involved site selection for a new academic building with an eye towards not only adding space, but also finding a way to enrich campus life. After evaluating nine sites, the best spot proved to be an underutilized area that was serving as a back lawn to other campus buildings and was mostly inaccessible due to natural and architectural barriers. We designed an L shaped building that faces the open space and internally provides a range of academic facilities. Externally we used the site’s natural topography to create public space, connect key pedestrian pathways, and accomplish grade changes that could not be easily negotiated before to bring activity into the open. 

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