The new four-story John W. Olver Design Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the first cross-laminated timber (CLT) academic building in the US. It is also an example of true collaboration: the UMass Building and Construction Technology (BCT) department actually developed some of the CLT technology used in this project. The building was designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates, and Acentech provided acoustics and audiovisual design services for this project.

The building’s multi-disciplinary program, organized around an interior courtyard called the Commons, showcases the exposed timber. To achieve optimal speech intelligibility, Acentech worked with the design team in the selection of sound absorptive finishes with an emphasis on wood-based products. Clear sound separation of the various programmed spaces was a priority and challenging, especially with noise producing spaces such as shops and BCT labs adjacent to seminar rooms and the Commons. Acentech worked with the design team in detailing a custom sound isolating floor/ceiling systems for some of the most critical adjacencies. The MEP system is designed to operate quietly with energy-efficient chilled beams and fan coil units on an ECM motor.

As the new home to UMass Amherst’s architectural and engineering programs, the building needed to accommodate custom AV to compliment the highly technical nature of these studies. Acentech designed the presentation systems for classrooms, meeting spaces, seminar rooms, videoconference suite, and the central atrium mentioned above. These systems are flexible and scalable in nature, yet easy to manage and support.

“The Acentech team really delivered on this project. The main atrium works well acoustically for small group reviews as well as for large gatherings. We also love the laser projectors and are pleased with how well the LCD screens work in our conference rooms that are facing due west.” – Alexander C. Schreyer, Director of the Building and Construction Technology Program at UMass Amherst

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