Finegold Alexander Architects is proud to announce that The University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s Old Chapel has been recognized by the Victorian Society in America, with a prestigious Commendation Award. The award honors the quality of the restoration and adaptive re-use of the building, which stood empty on the campus for more than 15 years.

The building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a jewel in the heart of the campus and a recognized historical asset for the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts. The Chapel is in excellent company with two other award winners including the Capital Dome in Washington, D.C., and the Louis Sullivan designed Charnley-Norwood House in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Charles Robertson III, President of the Victorian Society in America and Chair of its Preservation Committee, noted that the award was bestowed to the Chapel project because the VSA was “impressed by the quality of the work, the attention to detail in blending the restoration with new elements as well as the successful reuse.”

“This award underscores one of our key goals for this restoration. The interpretation of the building, its purpose and its function on our campus cannot be overstated. The forward-thinking approach preserves our campus heritage and the building is a living symbol of sustainable, resilient design. We are honored to receive this award,” said Kumble Subbaswamy, Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
umassamherst_oldchapel_finegoldalexanderarchitects_20“The project was an absolute pleasure to work on,” said Regan Shields Ives, Principal, Finegold Alexander Architects.  “Our team has returned Old Chapel to its rightful place in UMass Amherst’s campus heritage making it an active participant in supporting faculty and student life, and we are very proud to be recognized.”

The chapel was originally designed by Steven C. Earle in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, constructed in 1884 as a multi-purpose facility for lectures, religious services, a library and reading room. The building was renovated in 1936 and served as a classroom building for more than 60 years, but was closed in 1999 for code and access deficiencies. In 2014, Finegold Alexander Architects along with a team of engineers and specialists began to evaluate the building for restoration and transformation.

The final design created an integrated landscaped terrace with accessible ramps and a contemporary glass entry pavilion at the South facade. A flexible layout with multi-use spaces, new AV and IT systems, a large format interactive display wall, an underground mechanical vault, and insertion of an elevator brought the building up to code. In addition, the second-floor Great Hall was restored to its original splendor, for use by campus groups, alumni, and for private events. The design exceeded the target for LEED Silver and achieved LEED Gold Certification. Construction was completed in the Fall of 2016 and the ribbon cutting took place in March 2017.

The award will be presented to University of Massachusetts Amherst representatives in New York City in October, 2017 at the VSA’s Annual meeting and symposium.