UMass Amherst Holds Chapel Grand Opening Celebration
Published in High Profile on March 22, 2017
Finegold Alexander Architects recently announced the completion and official reopening of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Old Chapel, which was marked with a ribbon cutting on March 23 in the historic center of campus.
The most iconic and widely recognized building on campus, the Old Chapel first opened in 1885 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building closed in 1999 because it no longer met code and accessibility requirements. Today, the Old Chapel has emerged following a two-year, $21 million renovation as a vibrant community space for student gatherings, exhibits, and events. The project is targeted for LEED Gold certification.
The first floor provides a flexible layout for social gatherings, study, and events and will serve as a general campus resource. The top floor Great Hall provides a large open space for lectures, seminars, performances, and banquets. The building will be available for weddings and private events in the future.
The restoration preserved the best aspects of the historic building while adding an accessible arrival sequence and a contemporary glass-entry addition. Internally, an elevator, building systems, and technology were sensitively woven into the historic fabric. An underground mechanical vault houses the main mechanical, electrical, and plumbing service to the building and ties into the campus utility infrastructure. A 12-panel interactive display wall on the first floor can be used for presentations, exhibits, or general campus information.
First opened in 1886, the Old Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. The project is on track to achieve LEED Gold certification.
“The historic preservation and renovation of the UMass Amherst Old Chapel allows the iconic building to remain central to the beauty of the campus while serving several new uses,” said Regan Shields Ives, principal, Finegold Alexander Architects. “Preserving this campus icon is key to the continuity of UMass Amherst’s heritage, and we are pleased to have been part of this landmark project.
“Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, during his first visit to UMass Amherst, envisioned a restored Old Chapel as an inspiring and dynamic space for all who live, work and visit at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus,” said Ed Blaguszewski, executive director of strategic communications at UMass Amherst. “Finegold Alexander and everyone involved in this project have done an extraordinary job in restoring this jewel to its rightful place in campus life.”
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