413-549-5799 - 110 Pulpit Hill Road, Amherst, MA 01002

FACD worked with Randall Walter (architect from BENSONWOOD Design Build of Walpole, NH) and Sebastian Gutwein (Designer and principal from Regenerative Design Group of Greenfield MA) on a competition entry for an open band shell for the Common in Amherst, MA.

In order to achieve the programmatic objectives without blocking views of the historic buildings beyond, our team chose a semi-translucent roof structure that sits lightly on three fin-like posts. Tapered glu-laminated beams are cantilevered out from “mass timber”, wedge-shaped fins and covered with translucent acrylic panels. These overlapping colored roof panels reminded our team of the tissue paper collages of Eric Carle, which led in turn, to further refinement of the structure as an abstraction of the butterfly wings of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. Actual colors were inspired by the Early Hairstreak, a local threatened butterfly species. For acoustic considerations, the raised roof wings project the sound outward, rather than down at performers and microphones, reducing feedback.

The roof panels create different experiences of light, depending on time of day and use of the space. During daylight hours, they will cast pools of color onto the bandshell floor (while filtering hot UV rays), and during evening performances, they will glow from inside, drawing attendees towards the performance. This graffiti-resistant material is also used in the cut out panels of the structural fins and site lighting fixtures. Inscriptions of poetry (Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost), books (The Phantom Tollbooth) and musical scores would be embedded in the panels. At night, perimeter lighting around these panels causes the inscriptions to glow.