The UMass Amherst College of Education has existed for over a century. As an incubator of thousands of teaching professionals, this school has undergone countless changes throughout its history. Recently, one of its most significant paradigm shifts included the adoption of the motto “One Building, One College, One Learning Community.” The keystone to this change in campus culture? Major renovations to Furcolo Hall, originally built in 1962. Designers at Perkins + Will selected Acentech to assist in the acoustical design of the collaborative learning spaces within this facility.

The updated building provides a naturally welcoming environment to support faculty, researchers, students and staff within a new active-learning approach to teaching future educators. Acentech’s acoustics consultant provided recommendations for proper room finishes and HVAC noise mitigation in the classroom spaces.

Just as classrooms have changed significantly within the past 100 years, so has the acoustic needs of these spaces. With upper clearstory windows and a higher-than-typical ceiling height, the design team wanted to make sure the space was appropriately treated with sound absorption materials to promote clear communication between the students and instructors. Collaborative learning environments in particular pose an atypical challenge to individuals accustomed to lecture-style learning pedagogies. With multiple voices talking over one another, sound can build up fast within active learning classrooms. Acentech assisted in the design of these spaces to ensure that sound build-up is mitigated as well as possible to prevent enthusiastic conversations from becoming tiresome distractions.

For the first time in this college’s history, all students are under one roof, reaping the benefits of a truly collaborative environment.

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