Thanks to all those who supported us! 

UMass DesignBuild

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
26 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on December 21, at 11:59 PM EST
Project Owners

Help Make the UMass DesignBuild Experience Possible


UMass DesignBuild (UMDB) provides students with a direct, hands-on, 2-semester experience designing and building affordable, net-zero accessory dwelling units for low-income residents in Holyoke, MA.

Your contribution will support student scholarships for the summer session construction phase. Thank you for helping us make this experience accessible to all students!

“Having spent part of my childhood in insecure housing, it means a lot to be building a home for another. I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of UMass’s first design/build team. I am proud of what we built..." - Student Participant (2022)

Financial Needs

Through this MinuteFund campaign, UMass Architecture is raising funds specifically for scholarships for students to defray the costs of the summer session construction course. Substantial financial resources are required to run this program, from instructional needs to construction costs. Our ultimate goal is to establish a permanent, campus-based design-build program with attendant design and construction courses, scholarships to support student participation and TA positions, and a fully endowed design-build faculty position. Your contribution puts us on the path towards this goal.

UMass DesignBuild Program

UMDB is a collaboration between UMass Architecture, UMass Building and Construction Technology, and Five College Architectural Studies. Our mission is to provide transformational educational experiences to empower our students to become ethical leaders in their chosen professions. We do this by engaging students in both the design and construction of small, high-performance houses for underserved communities in Western Mass. We completed a pilot program in 2022 where students designed and built a 350 square foot, net-zero ready house that was displayed at the Green River Music Festival and then donated to OneHolyoke Community Development Corporation. In 2023, we are partnering with OneHolyoke CDC again to design and build an accessory dwelling unit that will become part of their affordable housing options in Holyoke, MA. Students will gain experience with all aspects of the design and construction process from schematic design and construction documentation to framing, envelope assemblies, and finish carpentry.

“There are very few things in the world that I would trade for the experience of this practicum and certainly nothing so far within my architectural education compares.”- Student Participant (2022)

Program Highlights

  • Foster interdisciplinary collaboration between undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in UMass Architecture, Five College Architectural Studies, and UMass Building and Construction Technology.
  • Educate students in principles of sustainable design and construction to prepare them to be leaders in their fields.
  • Measure the embodied and operational carbon in buildings and assess how this informs the design of buildings and assemblies to reduce the environmental impacts of building.
  • Engage students on issues of climate equity and housing affordability while working with local community partners

Thank you for your support!

UMDB Instructor Team

Naomi Darling. Associate Professor, Architecture Department, Mt Holyoke College, and UMass Amherst

Carl Fiocchi. Senior Lecturer, Building and Construction Technology Program, UMass Amherst.

Kent Hicks. Adjunct Lecturer, Building and Construction Technology, UMass Amherst.

Rob Williams. Assistant Professor, Architecture, UMass Amherst.

Choose a giving level


Architectural Intern

A great way to start!


Design Staff I

Moving up!


Job Captain

Climbing fast!


Project Manager

You're overseeing the project!


Associate Architect

Heading to the top!



You're a boss!