University of Massachusetts – Amherst


John W. Olver Design Building


District Utilities
Mechanical & Electrical
Fire Protection


Amherst, Massachusetts




$53 million


Leers Weinzapfel Associates


87,000 square feet

Incorporating Sustainability, Innovative Design in Cross-Laminated Timber Academic Building

The John W. Olver Design Building exemplifies UMass Amherst’s commitment to sustainability and innovative design, and the value of integrating the architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and green building design programs into one facility.

The first and largest cross laminated timber academic building in the United States, the Design Building houses classrooms and studios, computer labs, materials-testing, green-building and digital fabrication laboratories, a woodshop, and an outdoor working area. Collaborative spaces include a cafe, exhibit space, library, and function spaces.

The project was designed to achieve the Governor’s Executive Order 484 mandated “MA LEED Plus” accreditation level and the University’s minimum LEED accreditation level of Gold, with a possibility of Platinum, together with a focus on minimizing energy use.

The building’s innovative design has garnered many awards and honors, including being named one of the best new buildings of 2017 by the Wall Street Journal and voted the 2017 World Architects U.S. Building of the Year. The project was also honored with an Award of Merit in the Engineering News-Record list of New England’s 2017 Best Projects in the Higher Education / Research category and an Honor Award for Design Excellence by the Boston Society of Architects.