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John W. Olver Design Building
Project Type:
Higher Education
Project Location:
551 N Pleasant Street
Amherst, Massachusetts 01003
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AIA Committee on the Environment:
2020 Top Ten
Design Features:
Passive Design, Cross-Laminated Timber, CLT, Stormwater Management
Project Summary:
Bringing together the previously dispersed Departments of Architecture, Building Construction Technology, and Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning, the John W. Olver Design Building fosters multidisciplinary collaboration and expressively integrates construction, landscape architecture, and building technology. It exemplifies the University of Massachusetts’ commitment to sustainable and innovative design with its LEED Gold certification and demonstration of emerging wood construction technologies.

An integrated approach to sustainability maximizes the impact of passive design, while incorporating strategic engineering solutions to minimize energy use. Addressing not only operational energy use, but also reducing the embodied energy of the building itself, the Olver building features an innovative use of engineered timber structure. The largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) academic building in the United States, the Olver building demonstrates the sustainability, economy, and beauty of mass timber as a building material and renewable resource.

The Olver building occupies a pivotal site on the Amherst campus and brings the community into "the commons" where students and faculty gather for organized and informal activity. The well-lit space offers visual connection to studios and maker spaces, embracing the university's collaborative goals. The surrounding landscape and roof garden restore a visibly functioning ecosystem, creating an outdoor classroom for detailing, site engineering, plant ecology, soil science, and stormwater management.

For students using the spaces, the building itself is both a learning environment and a teaching tool, demonstrating the simplicity, power, and beauty of design that expressively integrates structure, landscape, and architecture.
(Source: AIA COTE 2020)
Tapestry Statistics:
2020-05-29 00:03:09
2020-05-29 00:50:28
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Design and Construction Team:
Acoustics and Audiovisual
Howe Engineers
Code Consultant
Faithful Gould
Cost Estimating
Nitsch Engineering
Civil Engineer
Geotechnical Engineer
BVH Integrated Services
MEP, Fire Protecdtion and Site Utilities Engineer
Weston & Sampson
Site and Hazmat Engineer
Equilibrium Consulting, Inc.
Structural Design Engineer
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Structual Engineeer of Record
Suffolk Construction
General Contractor
Stephen Stimson Associates
Landscape Architect
Atelier Ten
Sustainable Design and Lighting
Rad Lab
Wood Shop and Digital Fabrication Consulting
News Articles:
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Ngoc Doan / STIMSON
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Albert Vecerka/Esto
Albert Vecerka/Esto