Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Area: 173000.0 ft2
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Warren Jagger Photography
From the architect. The new Integrated Science Building on the campus of UMass Amherst was conceived as center for research, technology, and interdisciplinary interaction. Positioned on an important crossroads of campus paths, Payette sought to capitalize on the constant influx of people to the site by rerouting these paths through a large linear atrium space that faces both the campus and the open lab spaces within the building.
Science and non-science students alike populate the multistory atrium. Three bamboo-clad "tree houses" exist within the atrium and act as visual invitations for all students to stay and learn from each other within the building.
These tree house pods are juxtaposed with the clean aluminum, steel, and glass palate of the rest of the structure. The labs, classrooms, and lecture halls are designed as discreet modules that independently relate to both the atrium that they are accessed from and themselves.
Within one larger lab module, clusters of individual lab setups are arranged such that students can feel as though they are in a smaller lab setting and instructors can easily monitor activity throughout the area.
With the construction of the Integrated Science Center, the university has integrated disciplines within the science department in order to promote collaboration between them. Specialized research labs are designed for maximum flexibility in order to accommodate specific experiment parameters across multiple research disciplines. Shared instrument labs encourage interaction between common research activities while maintaining efficiency across the university.
Whether it be the grand public spaces, appealing to all university students, or the flexible lab spaces, accommodating many disciplines within the field of science, the ISB through its logical siting, programming, and layout promotes the interdisciplinary collaboration that is fundamental to fulfilling the mission of the research university.