The New Student Center and the Dining Commons are two connected projects that will enhance the Amherst experience for our entire community. Using the structure of the existing Merrill Science Building, the Center will connect upper and lower campus, offering welcoming spaces for students, faculty, and staff to gather and interact across interests and affinities. Nothing is more important than creating a place where all members of our community can come together, forge connections, and make Amherst their own.


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Above: A view of the Merrill Science Building from the Amherst College Science Center; Below: An architectural rendering of the New Student Center and the Dining Commons from the same viewpoint.

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Dig that View!

See live views from three webcams as we construct the New Student Center & the Dining Commons. See construction updates for more information about ways this construction will impact campus life.

Live View of Construction from Ford Hall


A screenshot of a large building in a state of demolition.

Merrill Demo FAQ

The Student Center and Dining Commons project is underway! Part of Merrill’s concrete structure is being removed down to the third-floor level. The following FAQ answers some of the most common questions you have have about this project.

A map of campus showing construction zones in blue, yellow and green.

Construction Information

Amherst is currently working on the decarbonization of the campus' energy system and the New Student Center & the Dining Commons. Please visit our Construction Information page for updates on how this will affect campus life.

Architectural Renderings

The following are renderings shared by Herzog and de Meuron, the architectural firm designing the new Student Center and the Dining Commons. These provide an appoximation of the Center’s main spaces.

Enhancing the Amherst Experience

The new Student Center and the Dining Commons will house a broad range of activities and ways to enjoy being part of the Amherst community. It will also replace the dining facility located in the aging Valentine Hall, which is nearing the end of its useful life.

The Swiss architectural firm Herzog and de Meuron is designing the Center around four principles that will affirm the connection to place that is so much a part of the Amherst experience.

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Two photos of students talking in a room full of students

Wellbeing

Spaces for wellness, group movement, and prayer will allow students to recharge. For fun, there will be a pub, party venues, and a gamespace.

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Two Black students singing and playing the guitar

Engagement

Student-centric homes for clubs and organizations, the Resource Centers, affinity groups, religious and spiritual life, and student government will live here.

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Students laughing and throwing balloons

Gathering

The Center will house a living room and lounge, a grand staircase with seating niches, meeting rooms, and flexible event spaces for scheduled or serendipitous connection.

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Students painting on easels in a classroom

Creating

Students will have access to makerspaces, a satellite of the Book & Plow Farm for year-round growing, a theater, dance space and music rooms.


Sustainable & Environmentally Responsive Architecture

Repurposing the Merrill Science Building, which will form the ground and first floors of the new Center, will reduce the project’s overall carbon use. The remaining structure will be primarily made of technologically advanced wood construction—a low-carbon design strategy. This will help fulfill our Climate Action Plan goal of transforming our campus energy system away from fossil fuels to renewably sourced energy to achieve carbon neutrality.

Sustainable Design Elements

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An architectural drawing of a wall of the student center with numbers that correspond to the text

#1 Solar Energy
Roof nosings will utilize solar energy

#2 Thermal Mass (materials)
Green materials will efficiently absorb, store and release heat

#3 Cantilevered shading
will provide shading on all levels

#4 CO2 Reduction
The existing Merrill concrete structure and technologically advanced and durable timber will reduce our CO2 footprint

#5 Thermal Mass (windows)
Partly opaque windows and facade expression will provide further shade

#6 MEP Heating Cooling Systems
Displacement ventilation and radiant floors will help control indoor climate

#7 Natural Ventilation
Facade flaps and operable windows will open the building to the surrounding landscape

 

A Place to Connect

The structure will provide a central location that prioritizes wellness and community, while enhancing and centralizing our residential life programs, clubs, student activities and affinity groups. In doing so, the Center will act as a central hub that connects us and emphasizes the natural beauty of our surroundings.

Each level of the Center will provide unique spaces that will support connecting, socializing, and forging friendships. Select the levels below to see the spaces and services offered on each floor.

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A side view of the Center with a red arrow connecting the front and back of the building

A side-view of the Center’s four levels and the most direct route from the Plaza (main quad) side and the Greenway, connected by the two main staircases.