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Renovation gives UMass freshmen upgraded residential facilities

April 10, 2013 |
Julie S. Higginbotham


 HMFH Architects, a firm focused on the design of innovative learning environments, announced that it has completed renovations to Van Meter Hall, a freshman residence at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) campus.

Van Meter Hall is a First Year Living and Learning Community focused on culture and the arts for students pursuing a program of study or passion in music, art, dance, or theater. Chosen for its extensive experience in creating vibrant living and learning student spaces, HMFH was charged with creating an atmosphere that supports students’ creative endeavors.

“A student’s introduction to residence hall and campus life forms the building blocks upon which his or her university experience can be founded,” said Cleve Carrens, UMass Capital Projects Manager. “HMFH has revitalized Van Meter Hall and created a dynamic environment for socializing, learning, and establishing a students’ first home-away-from-home experience.”

The renovations restore and reinvigorate the Hall’s traditional architecture with the introduction of transparent walls, custom graphics, vibrant colors, bold floor and ceiling patterns, and dramatic lighting, creating a home for students that fosters creativity, connection, and learning.

Focused on the building’s first two floors, the project includes upgrades to student lounges, social and recreation areas, dance and practice rooms, study spaces, media rooms, and offices. Moveable furniture in the lounges offer flexibility for different social gatherings, such as small group study, large meetings, or group movie nights. HMFH also created in the social spaces interactive two- and three-dimensional display areas for student work and white boards for sharing ideas with peers.

“UMass Amherst envisioned a living space that invites students out of their rooms into vibrant common areas that promote interaction and communication,” said Laura Wernick, AIA, LEED AP, principal at HMFH Architects. “This project creates a space for young artists to explore their interests and ideas, create a community, and a home within the university campus.”

About HMFH Architects

Since 1969, HMFH Architects, Inc. has built opportunities for learning on a local, regional and national level. With its distinguished range of award-winning work from renovated urban buildings to new rural campuses, HMFH is recognized as a leader in the design of innovative academic environments. HMFH's work, noted for its user-centered design and energetic use of color, has been exhibited nationally.  For more information, please visit

Julie S. Higginbotham | New Projects Portfolio
Building Design + Construction
Senior Editor

Julie S. Higginbotham, Senior Editor of Building Design + Construction, has more than 20 years of experience writing about the built environment. Previously she was editor of Laboratory Design newsletter, and a member of the editorial team at School Planning & Management, College Planning & Management, Building Supply Home Centers, and American Nurseryman. She is a recepient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award and multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE).

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