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   Date: 2/10/10 Bookmark and Share

Ford Hall Greens the Valley

By Isabel Barrios ’10

This month Ford Hall is being showcased for the first time in its short history as one among a handful of buildings in the Pioneer Valley emphasizing sustainable, contemporary architecture and environmentally responsible building practices.

An exhibition, “Greening the Valley: Sustainable Architecture in the Pioneer Valley,” opens Thursday, February 11, in the University Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Fine Arts Center. A public opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m.

From the exhibition: a "green" residence in Amherst (photo by Jeff Yardis).

Ford Hall, a consummate example of green architecture, inspired the exhibition "Greening the Valley."

Ford Hall's numerous windows allow lots of light and passive heat inside.

“Greening the Valley” showcases local examples of contemporary architecture that make use of technologies and design strategies friendly to the environment. The selection of buildings in the exhibition ranges from private residences to academic buildings and designed landscapes among others. The buildings represent the collective effort of institutions, building owners and designers to collaborate in the fight against the current environmental crisis.

The exhibition and its different components seek not only to teach about the concept of sustainability but also how we can actively take care of the environment in our homes and communities. Accompanying lectures as well as a database on information on sustainability and local providers of environmentally friendly construction materials and designers will complement the exhibition.

Ford Hall is an integral part of Smith’s ongoing sustainability program and the most outstanding example of green architecture on campus. The building was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, an architectural firm recognized for its green designs. Ford Hall’s design uses sustainable technologies and strategies that reduce the consumption of energy and make effective use of natural resources, like sun light and rain water, and employs recycled material. One of the highlights of Ford Hall is its roof garden, which reduces the amount of runoff storm-water while providing a colorful landscape.

Ford Hall, Smith’s facility for engineering and sciences, illustrates a current trend of green architecture among college campuses and contributed to the conception of “Greening the Valley.”

“Learning about Ford Hall and Smith's efforts at sustainability was part of recognizing a larger pattern of building emerging on college campuses,” commented architectural historian Margaret Birney Vickery, curator of the exhibition. “As I kept seeing more sprouting up around me, I thought about bringing them to the public's notice through an exhibition. So Ford Hall was another piece in the puzzle, spurring me to find a way to make the exhibition happen.”

For the past five weeks I have been volunteering at the University Gallery in the assembly of “Greening the Valley.” My volunteer position is part of the practical experience requirements for completing the new Museums Concentration offered at Smith as of last year. The program’s aim is to introduce students to the field of museums.

The Presentation of the Museums Concentration will take place Thursday, Feb. 11, at 12:15 p.m. in Campus Center 103/104. Applications for the program are due by March 15.

Volunteering for “Greening the Valley” has helped me understand more about the many components that form an exhibition and how they work together. I have helped in the development of educational material, the physical installation of the exhibition and the publicity of the event.

Although the Museums Concentration is a new program, students at Smith have been interested in working for museums for a long time. Many alumnae have entered the field successfully. This year a handful of seniors will complete the academic requirements and practical experiences at museums and other cultural institutions for the concentration. We will be the first generation of students to complete the program.

Most students interested in the Museums Concentration are art history, art studio and architecture majors. However, the concentration is open to any student interested in the field of museums regardless of academic field. All seniors in the concentration must complete a final capstone project, which they will present as part of “Celebrating Collaborations,” the annual showcase of student presentations, this year on April 17.

“Greening the Valley” will be on display in the University Gallery through May 9.

 

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