University of Massachusetts, Amherst commemorates 150th anniversary

Lauren Williams's picture

On October 19, University of Massachusetts Amherst unveiled unique historical markers installed around campus commemorating the 150th anniversary of the institution. The glass pillars are seven-feet-tall and celebrate the founding of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the University’s original namesake. The monuments chronicle the history and development of the college that became known as Mass Aggie in its first 70 years.

Designed as an exhibition, each glass panel tells a different part of the college’s story, from its founding under the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, to its student life and agricultural innovations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The glass markers use original photos of real students, creating a congruous relationship to past and present students.

“Students can look eye-to-eye at life size figures of earlier students from 100 years in the past, and come to realize that the story of the founding of their University continues today in them, and in their relationship to the greater community and environment,” says John Mathews, assistant director for campus projects, Design and Construction Management at UMass Amherst. “The monuments use original, historic photographs and maps, and are backlit with LED lights creating a remarkable display and presence on the east lawn of the Recreation Center, the original site of the Mass Aggie farm buildings. Nothing quite like them exists anywhere else.”

A collaborative effort between UMass Amherst, Sasaki, VHB, and DCL, the monuments are a representation of the core values of accessibility, sustainability, and diversity established by the Massachusetts Agricultural College at its inception—the same ideals that prevail today. The internally illuminated glass structures feature life-sized photographs of students on one side and a series of stories about the college’s establishment, student life, and agricultural innovations on the other. Each monument has a QR code linked to a series of websites for students and others seeking more information on the history of the campus.

About University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the flagship campus of the UMass system, is one of the nation's top public research universities with 25,000 students studying in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from New York City. Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2013, UMass Amherst offers 114 undergraduate degree programs (including six associate degrees) as well as 73 master's and 51 doctoral programs.

About Sasaki

Sasaki is an integrated planning and design firm committed to realizing thoughtful, sustainable solutions to our clients’ unique problems. Drawing on the collaboration and diversity of ideas that defines our interdisciplinary firm, our teams take a personal approach to creating award-winning spaces and places for our institutional, civic, and commercial clients. Sasaki is a mid-sized firm of professionals working throughout the United States and internationally from our studio in Boston.

About VHB

VHB’s passionate team of civil engineers, planners, designers, and environmental scientists provides consulting services to clients in the transportation, real estate, institutional, and energy industries, as well as to federal, state and local governments. Ranked 78th in the nation among top design firms by ENR, VHB partners with our clients from offices throughout the east coast to improve mobility, and enhance communities and economic vitality, while balancing the needs of the built environment with natural, social, cultural, and historic resources.

About DCL

Design Communications, Ltd. is a premier fabricator of environmental graphics and architectural specialties. We serve clients both nationally and internationally through our fabrication facilities in Boston and Orlando, as well as our development office in Manhattan. Engineering expertise and professional management of challenging projects are our principal strengths. This particular marker project is a case in point as it required: strong collaboration, exceptional design-engineering and maximal endurance goals—completed on an absolute-deadline schedule. DCL welcomes this challenge and has the capability to perform.