Olympia Place is a highly sustainable, progressively designed, and privately developed student housing building in Amherst, Massachusetts, adjacent to the University of Massachusetts campus. The project consists of a new, five-story, wood-framed building that provides 232 beds for students in 73 apartments. In addition to fully furnished units ranging from studios to 4-bedroom suites, the building provides students with a double-height common space with multiple fireplaces, study rooms, breakout spaces, a lounge, a fitness center, and a staffed front desk. Digital technology, ultra-fast wifi, and movable furniture put Olympia Place at the forefront of innovative student housing.
Adjacent to a woodland conservation, the irregularly-shaped six-sided site presented a challenge to the design team and ultimately inspired the footprint of the building. Referencing traditional New England academic architecture, the building’s form resembles a cluster of gables. The scheme breaks the scale of the large building into smaller volumes, set at angles. Recessed windows emphasize the vertical planes of the building. Metal roofing material wraps down the sides of the building to provide durability in a snow-prone winter climate. A brick material is featured on the ends of the building volume, tying into the nearby campus context. Together the brick and white material palette provides visual contrast and minimizes the appearance of the building’s mass.
Designed to LEED for Homes Midrise Gold standards, the building systems and "perfect" wall construction reduce energy consumption by 39.9%. Efficient mechanical systems, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, and low-flow fixtures further reduce energy and water consumption.
The building’s bays form two courtyards, providing outdoor gathering space and visual access to nature. The private courtyard, planted with birch trees and ferns, provides a tranquil amenity. The resulting effect is an accessible, small-village campus feel nestled between campus and nature.