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Earlier this year, the University of Massachusetts Amherst celebrated the opening of its newly constructed Design Building, “the largest, modern wood building in the northeastern United States, and one of the first institutional buildings to employ an engineered timber structure.”

Designed by architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates, with construction management by Suffolk Construction, both of Boston:

  • The 87,000-square-foot Design Building is “constructed with cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated columns, and is the most advanced CLT building in the U.S.”
  • When compared to a traditional, energy-intensive steel and concrete building, the new structure “saves the equivalent of over 2,300 metric tons of carbon.”
  • Built “around an interior courtyard of exposed timber, and an exterior landscaped courtyard and outdoor classroom, the building houses three academic units – architecture; building and construction technology; and landscape architecture and regional planning, and will foster collaboration across the disciplines.”

The milestone structure “reflects the university’s commitment to sustainability and innovation in education.” The challenge going forward is to get more American universities to teach wood as a structural material. For additional project images, visit

Information source –


UMass interior

University of Massachusetts, Design Building Architect: Leers Weinzapfel Associates



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