Fine Arts Center BridgeUniversity of Massachusetts, Amherst

Completed in 1975, Kevin Roche’s landmark project at UMass Amherst is exemplary of his unique approach to mid-century concrete architecture. designLAB’s work focuses on the “Bridge” of the structure: a 600-foot long, 40-foot wide bar of classrooms suspended 30 feet in the air. The Bridge was reprogrammed from exclusively painting and drawing classrooms to a wide range of arts uses, from traditional drawing studios, to a theater rehearsal space, to a state-of-the-art cross-disciplinary recording studio.

Primary among designLAB’s replanting strategies was a re-thinking of the circulation corridor that runs the length of the bridge. By moving the corridor to the south side of the bridge, the team was able to relocate it under a continuous skylight, bringing daylight into the otherwise windowless 600-foot long span. The move also created common areas at the three access points, thereby creating better wayfinding, collaboration, and social spaces.