Hitchcock Center for the Environment

by designLAB Architects

This article was originally published in Architect Magazine.

Project Description

The new 9,000-sf home of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, Massachusetts, will serve as a teaching tool that fully integrates and celebrates the relationship between the built and natural environments. A participant in the Living Building Challenge, the new center generates it’s own energy form the sun and captures its own drinking water from the rain. It also features an integrated interpretive program that explains universal natural principles and illustrates how those principles are applied within the building.

The building uses a combination of high-tech and hand-on tools to illustrate the direct connection between people and our place in the natural world. HCE wanted a smart building, but they also wanted the building’s staff to be responsible for helping to achieve sustainability goals. We installed sensors that monitor outdoor temperature and humidity. When it’s nice outside, the mechanical system is disabled and an indicator light switches from red to green, letting users know it’s time to open the windows. This teaches conservation habits that each user can take home, furthering the sustainable impact of the project.

Project Name

Hitchcock Center for the Environment


845 West St.
Amherst, MA USA 01002

Project Status


Year Completed



9,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost



Hitchcock Center for the Environment

  • Sam Batchelor
  • Other: Linnean Solutions
  • Other: Integrated Eco Strategies
  • Lighting Designer: Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting
  • Other: Object|Idea
  • Civil Engineer: Berkshire Design Group
  • Plumbing Engineer: Buro Happold Engineering
  • Structural Engineer: Structures Workshop
  • General Contractor: Wright Builders
  • Landscape Architect: Stephen Stimson Landscape Architects
Certifications and Designations
  • Living Building Challenge

New Construction

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment