Greenway aerial sketch

It is the obligation of a serious college to hold open the space for thought and deliberation, and to offer more than scripted knowledge. The Greenway recognizes the importance of the Amherst landscape and builds upon our tradition of rigorous academics balanced by quality of place.

—Biddy Martin, 19th President of Amherst College

The Greenway was conceived as a dynamic place to embrace and enjoy rather than simply pass through. Approximately 12 acres, the Greenway will run along the natural corridor from the Beneski Earth Sciences Building to the new residence halls, featuring footpaths through gardens, seating areas, and outdoor recreation and performance spaces. 

The Greenway will dramatically extend the landscape of the campus, opening the quad and therefore the campus to the east as never before. It will unify the campus at the same time as its design, shape, and uses expand the opportunities for everyone on campus to experience the richness of the landscape. Features will include:

  • an outdoor amphitheater for student concerts, performances, and theater productions.
  • shaded picnic areas and recreational expanses that encourage gatherings.
  • a terraced orchard of flowering ornamental trees behind the Mead Art Museum.
  • large stone steps on the hillside for transit, sitting, and studying.
  • gently curving, accessible pathways that make it possible to traverse the entire Greenway and its connections to the quad without stairways. 

Aerial sketch of the orchard next to Mead Art Museum


The Orchard

A large planting of cherry trees behind the Mead will be one of the most noticeable changes to the campus landscape and will transform an unused stretch of land into a beautiful and enjoyable space. In many ways, the orchard is reminiscent of the much-loved “College Grove” that once grew on the Main Quadrangle and was destroyed in a hurricane in 1938. 


The Rain Garden

Located south of the Science Center, the rain garden is at the confluence of multiple pedestrian paths. Providing proper drainage for the surrounding buildings and hillside, the rain garden turns a utilitarian necessity into an attractive landscape vignette. A boardwalk will create pedestrian paths above intended wetlands, with flowering plants such as mistflower and steeplebush growing below. Other plantings include ornamental grasses, water-loving trees such as swamp white oak, and an abundance of low-growing plants.

Rain garden and raised, wooden boardwalk

The North Garden

The curving paths, stone seating, and rich plantings will make the North Garden a favorite retreat for those those seeking a quiet place to read or relax.

architect's rendering of the volleyball court

The Volleyball Court

The Fire Pit

Located in front of Keefe and just down the hill from the Main Quadrangle, the fire pit will be a welcoming and popular addition to the campus center. It will serve as a natural gathering spot for students at all times of day.

Social Spaces at the Dorms

Greenway landscaping envelops the dorms and emphasizes student recreation with a full-size volleyball court and half basketball courts intended for use by all students.

A BBQ terrace will be an exciting addition for residents of neighboring dorms as well as those attending sporting events at the fields nearby.

By offering students convenient and useful outdoor spaces, the College believes it can take far better advantage of the varied opportunities presented by residential life, and allow students the space to create the connections and friendships that last a lifetime.

The Amphitheater

The amphitheater is cleverly designed to function as a performance venue yet still serve as an attractive natural landscape when not in use. The hillside will be lightly reformed to create terraces that direct pedestrian paths and ensure proper drainage. The architects worked with the natural slope of the hill to create different staging areas and the amphitheater will be the only venue on campus that can accommodate nearly the entire student body.


The Greenway was designed to work with nature instead of against it.  

rain garden

  • Amphitheater topography is designed to direct rainwater for quick drainage.
  • Rainwater gardens temporarily retain runoff.
  • Plantings used throughout are hardy New-England-appropriate varieties that provide visual interest in every season. Orchard trees were chosen for their early spring blooms and vivid fall foliage. Rain Garden plantings are flowering, water-tolerant plants.

Past to Present

The Greenway is a clear example of the way Amherst honors its past while also being of this time and place. It will unify campus by linking new buildings and creating fresh connections to existing ones.

An active place, the Greenway will invite people to stroll, sit, study and play. The Amherst landscape has inspired generations of students, and the Greenway will continue and enrich this tradition.

About the Architect

The College is working with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the award-winning firm behind the extraordinarily successful Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the landscape design. 

Architect's rendering of students walking on Greenway by Science Center