The Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates has unveiled designs for the Design Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The new structure will bring the university’s departments of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Architecture, and Building Construction Technology together under one roof for the first time. To foster a sense of collaboration between the interdisciplinary students, the 80,000-square-foot structure is assembled like a coil with a significant center courtyard. This space has a two-story atrium that is topped by a “zipper truss” system and an outdoor courtyard above. Tom Chung, a principal at the firm, said the space reflects an intersection of the building’s three departments because it cohesively incorporates architecture, landscape design, and advanced building technologies.
The exterior of the Design Building is clad in bronzed anodized aluminum and has a pattern of vertical windows. Together, these components are intended to give the structure a “forest-like grain,” said Andrea Leers, another partner at Leers Weinzapfel Associates. A landscape of native plantings and stones surrounds the building, forming a natural storm water management system. The facility, which is aiming for LEED Gold certification, is also topped with a green roof.