University of Massachusetts Amherst Studio Arts Building
110 Thatcher Road, Amherst, MA
The Vision

The University of Massachusetts' beautiful $26.5 million Studio Arts Building in Amherst, Massachusetts opened in September, 2008 creating plenty of inspiring instructional space for painting, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics. The new building also provides unique areas for individual and group studies, and for displaying student art projects.

The three-story, 47,000 square foot building is located at the entrance to the University's campus and was designed to make a dramatic visual statement about the institution's commitment to the creative arts. It also is one of the greenest buildings on campus with numerous sustainable features including operable windows for natural ventilation and well-managed natural lighting.

The Airolite Look...

A massive and striking window wall projects approximately three feet from the front of the red brick facade and rises above the slanted roof line to create a massive atrium that serves as the principal architectural feature of the building. Large spans of Airolite vertical sun controls (approximately 5' wide by 10'-11' high) are employed inside each of the South, East and West facing window walls to pose muted horizontal sight lines and a depth of field behind the window system. Placing the sun controls inside the building also added an interesting depth perspective to the window wall. The sun controls were carefully produced in many different section sizes to fit in openings within the structural steel frame that supports the window system and stretch all the way to the sloped roof line. The sun controls were finished with a Kynar® 500 resin coating in a Bone White color to contribute further contrast and definition for the horizontal members.

The window wall allows abundant amounts of natural light to flood the atrium which is used for art exhibits and other public gatherings. From inside the atrium, the Airolite sun controls permit a clear view of the scenic campus and reduce glare for comfortable viewing of the art displays. The sun controls also contribute another impressive visual interior element to this distinctive space.

That Works

Airolite's extruded aluminum airfoil blade sun controls were designed and manufactured in many factory-assembled section sizes and configurations to accommodate complex geometric transitions from roof to window wall at the East and West facades. Each section was produced to precise dimensional tolerances to fit within structural steel frames that support the curtain wall.

The Airolite sun controls also significantly reduce glare creating a diffused natural lighting that's ideal for viewing students' art projects. One of the most innovative and unique features designed into the Airolite sun controls was a hinge system which allows maintenance personnel to raise the sun control sections when window cleaning is required. At the building's dedication, University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub said, "The Studio Arts Building's handsome design makes for an outstanding landmark at the entrance to our campus, and it provides a setting that cultivates the creative spirit, talent and pursuit of excellence that is so evident among our faculty and students."


  • Architects:

    Gund Partnership, Cambridge, MA

  • Sub Contractor:

    Daniel O'Connell's Sons, Inc., Holyoke, MA