Building the Future of Our Community

Amherst College’s new, multi-use Student Center & Dining Commons will become the signature space on campus essential to supporting and sustaining a vibrant student experience in ways that go beyond the classroom. As we begin our third century, we envision a space where future generations of Amherst students can define their own connections—where all students can come together to recharge, connect, reflect, create, and experience a fusion of elements and opportunities designed to promote happiness and well-being.

Student Center & Dining Commons Digital Brochure

Download a PDF brochure of the content on this page for offline viewing: Amherst College SCDC Brochure

Space matters. Together, we can create a different kind of space that will define the campus for Amherst’s third century and instill pride in every single Amherst College student about belonging to this campus and this community.” —President Michael A. Elliott ’92

A Campus Crossroads and Destination

A Place for All

In this new space, students will experience a fusion of elements and opportunities designed to promote happiness and well-being—from healthy food to recreational and spiritual activities to spaces for community engagement and fun.

Students eating in a modern dining area with a view towards mountains out a large window in the background

A Place to Recharge

A new dining commons, café, and grab and go areas can be configured into a variety of configurations that for different sizes and types of gatherings and events throughout the year.

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Students relaxing on chairs and couches in a low lit lounge area next to a fireplace

A Place to Connect

The main lounge, the outdoor terrace, new event and banquet spaces, and a new alumni pub will offer community members hubs of activity for socializing, studying, and relaxing.

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Students watching a dance performance in a modern thether setting

A Place to Reflect & Create

A theater, music rooms, makerspaces, interfaith gathering rooms, and suites for the cultural resource centers will bring together resources that are currently scattered around campus.

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Amherst students want to be a part of something. They seek out places to share laughter with friends, spark inspiration through conversation, and find comfort in connection. The Student Center & Dining Commons project addresses this need by focusing on our holistic approach to student wellbeing.

A map of Amherst College campus with an "Upper Campus" label over the quad, a "Lower Campus" label over the Science Center and the new student center inbetween

By connecting the upper campus and lower campus, the new building offers a central hub to welcome the Amherst community and provides a multi-faceted, state-of-the-art facility that will provide a home for student life activities; a place for dining and gatherings of all sizes; and an environment where all who enter find meaningful experiences and opportunities to interact with the collective Amherst College community.

Dig that View!

See live views from three webcams as we construct the New Student Center & the Dining Commons. The east side webcam looks to the front of the building from the Greenway; the north side webcam is located above the Stirn Auditorium; the Ford Hall webcam looks from the south towards the Mead Art Museum. Also, see construction updates for more information about ways this construction will impact campus life.

East Side Webcam Live View

North Side Webcam Live View

Live View of Construction from Ford Hall

A Blueprint for Connection

Designed by the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron with the intention of creating a structure that quietly and effectively brings out the best in its surroundings, the new building will feature spectacular views of the Holyoke Range and the area’s distinctive topography. It will exemplify sustainable, environmentally-responsive architecture, designed to affirm the connection between the built environment and the natural world, which is integral to the Amherst experience.

Select the levels below to see the spaces and services offered on each floor.

A side view of a building with an arrow that flows down three separate floors 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.

Four Distinct Levels for Everyone

Our Commitment to Sustainability

The foundation of the Merrill science building is being repurposed to form the ground and first floors of the new structure. This will reduce the overall embodied carbon for the project and be symbolic of the College’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The structure will be primarily made of technologically advanced, durable wood construction—a low-carbon design strategy—and will use renewably sourced energy.

The Dining Commons will also reflect a high standard of sustainability and a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with state-of-the-art, high-efficiency electric kitchens, making us one of the few colleges—and the first of the Five Colleges—to have an all-renewable-energy kitchen.

Sustainable Design Elements

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