CROTTY HALL

University of Massachusetts Amherst

2017

Crotty Hall, on the southeastern edge of the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, is a remarkable building designed to  operate under stringent net zero energy and emissions standards. It is located just south of Miller Pollin’s Gordon Hall of 2003 and houses the UMass Department of Economics. Its name honors Economics Professor Emeritus James Crotty and his wife Pamela. The site is extremely narrow and the challenges of designing a building for this site were daunting. The overarching goal was to allow an architectural solution to emerge out of this virtual sliver of land and, at the same time, accommodate the requirements of a robust program of 35 offices, four conference rooms, a small kitchen/café and a sprinkling of student lounge spaces. As in her previous work, Miller Pollin began with the site and its contours; a gentle slope downwards toward the west, a tight boundary line and restricted street access. To accommodate setback requirements and a driveway between Gordon and the new construction, the street façade was limited to a 27’width.

This building is beautiful with its rich blending of materials, colors and lighting. It is also the first building on campus designed to operate under net zero standards. The design places a high level of value on spatial variety even within a constrained building envelope. Color and light bring warmth and comfort to public and private spaces. The site design reflects an integrated approach to sustainability by knitting together the architecture and the landscape architecture.  The terraced rain gardens that line the northern bank of the building are fed by run-off from the roof, which is directed into vertical channels rendered in a dark gray zinc on the north elevation. The run-off irrigates the native plantings on the site. And the plantings, in turn, filter the storm water as it flows down to a local wetland area. As these plantings mature, they will provide a soft, transparent layer composed of colorful perennials, woody plants and small deciduous trees between the driveway and the gray zinc of Crotty Hall.