University of Massachusetts Amherst Recreation Center
161 Commonwealth Avenue, Amherst, MA
The Vision

The new, three-story, 120,000 square-foot Recreation Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst opened in the fall of 2010. The beautiful, well-equipped structure includes weight and fitness training centers that span two levels; locker and shower facilities; an elevated jogging track; a dividable three-court gymnasium; three multipurpose rooms; a juice bar and lounge; and administrative offices. The new recreation center is located along Commonwealth Avenue, one of the university's main thoroughfares, in a very prominent location. University officials wanted to make a statement with this building that recreation and wellness are a very important part of the campus and its mission.

The Airolite Look...

The exterior façade is composed primarily of red brick, wide expanses of glass and horizontal and vertical aluminum accents. The red brick provides a visual connection to the nearby Mullions Center and many other older buildings on campus. The extensive use of glass, fenestration, and metal panels throughout the façade signals the progressive intent of the building as a state-of-the-art fitness facility and the university's commitment to recreation and wellness as part of its mission.

Airolite extruded stationary Louver Type K666 was selected to crown each of the North, West and South facades at the clerestory level. The symmetry and narrow sight and shadow lines contributed by Louver Type K666 were deemed to be complementary to the adjacent metal panels and glazing. This single, uninterrupted, 430-foot long louver incorporates concealed vertical mullions to accommodate for thermal expansion throughout the long spans and poses no vertical sightlines to interrupt the viewer's observation. The louver incorporates welded 90-degree and 120-degree inside and outside mitered corners to match the profile of the building plan. Integral aluminum channel supports were incorporated in the louver assemblies to address wind design requirements and eliminate stack-joints from the 8-foot tall application. In addition, Louver Type K666 is utilized in two large louver areas that serve mechanical spaces at grade and at a louver screen wall that encloses mechanical equipment located on the roof. These installations demonstrate continuity with the same blade spacing, sight and shadowlines, and mitered corner configurations as the large louver that crowns the structure. All of the louvers were finished with a Class I clear finish for durability and to match adjacent fenestration and metal panels.

That Works

The design team specified Airolite's extruded stationary Louver Type K666 to be supplied in sections assembled entirely by welding for maximum durability and integrity. Field labor costs, mitigated by installation of factory-assembled louver sections, were further reduced by incorporating structural aluminum channels integral to each louver assembly which eliminated the installation of secondary steel or aluminum supports. Wind design and thermal expansion design analyses demonstrate the efficacy of the design, including perimeter attachments and fasteners. To support energy efficiency, two-inch deep insulated blank-off panels are used extensively throughout each louver in areas that are not dedicated to intake or exhaust ventilation. Insulated panels were factory-assembled to the louver sections to minimize field labor costs and were sealed to produce an air, light and moisture barrier at the interface between louver and blank-off panel. The exterior surface of each insulated panel is finished with a black two-coat Kynar® 500 resin coating to prevent differentiation of active and inactive louver areas by the casual observer.


  • Architects:

    Sasaki Associates, Inc., Watertown, MA

  • General Contractor:

    Fontaine Brothers, Inc., Springfield, MA