Whitmore Hall Renovation

University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Location: Amherst, MA

Total GSF: 3,600 GSF Renovation

Completed: 2016


PDR was engaged to perform full design services for the renovation of office suites at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The renovation project is in UMass’s Whitmore Administration Building, a 1965 concrete structure with many of its original characteristics still intact. 

The design was completed in two phases.  The programming phase identified the need for a layout to accommodate newly-restructured administrative staff, improved staff and student accessibility, visibility with security for the Vice Chancellor, more collaborative work spaces, and enhanced use of natural light for all staff members. The design phase focused on developing that layout while providing finish upgrades and office modernization to encourage active student participation and engagement with the office staff.

The key design elements in the suite feature finely-detailed millwork and bamboo wall panels to provide a collegiate and professional environment, while utilizing bamboo, a renewable material.  The new reception area maximizes ceiling height by rearranging mechanical equipment to take advantage of existing clerestory windows.  Updated audiovisual equipment is designed into the new conference room which has multiple uses, from crisis management meetings to hosting student events.  Collaboration, engagement, and natural light were essential to the users and are all key components in the final design.

The sustainable design strategy focused on providing optimal indoor environmental quality for the building occupants’ health, well-being, and comfort.  Materials such as adhesives, paints, carpets, and composite wood products were specified to comply with LEED VOC limits in order to limit occupants’ exposure to harmful chemical compounds. Daylight became a key element for the spaces, along with quality of interior lighting, acoustics, and thermal comfort by design.

Renewable materials and regionally-sourced materials with high recycled content were prioritized in the selection of finishes, such as bamboo and carpet.


Photography © Peter Vanderwarker