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University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Quad

By re-imaging the mid-century brutalist architecture of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMassD), IBI Group was able to bring social interaction and a vital missing link to the design of its campus core.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Dartmouth, MA
135,000 sq ft Area
2017 Completed

Following the firm’s work on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMassD) Campus Master Plan (CMP), the University identified this 135,000-sq. ft. space as a priority improvement project to create accessible connections and a meaningful campus social gathering space.

When a 2015 steam line replacement required the partial demolition of a Brutalist-era monumental stair within this priority improvement zone, UMassD saw this as an opportunity to implement the CMP recommendations and retained IBI Group to provide the design services. The firm’s landscape design transformed the vast concrete stair and plaza into an accessible, outdoor social space that connects the east and west side of the campus core while still honoring architect Paul Rudolph’s original design intent of setting the adjacent auditorium atop a concrete plinth.

Building on the existing architecture’s interplay with shadow, light and materials, and its historic mid-century minimalist design, the re-imagined plinth is a design of simple forms and materials. This outdoor space sets a new, welcoming tone on campus, encouraging social interaction and allowing students to enjoy the outdoors year-round. This project is an example of how re-imagining mid-century Brutalism can bring social engagement and new life to once bleak landscape spaces.

Two people sitting on a bench at University of Massachusetts
Photo by Ed Wonsek

A new generation of minds is reshaping the way we approach education at all levels of learning. Well-designed public space on university campuses, like the UMassD Quad, provides a crucial meeting point and gathering place for staff, students and visitors alike.

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"This project was a unique collaboration with the University and the Landscape Architecture team that was started as an infrastructure necessity but ended by improving the quality of the interior quad while removing physical barriers that have hindered academic and student success."

Robert Johnson, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

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