UMass DesignBuild Program

Consider supporting this amazing program that is empowering our students to become future ethical leaders.

UMass DesignBuild Program

UMass DesignBuild (UMDB) is a collaborative effort of the students from the UMass Department of Architecture, the UMass Building and Construction Technology Program, and the Five College Architectural Studies Program to design and build innovative, small-scale, affordable housing for under-served communities in Western Massachusetts. Our mission is to provide a transformational educational experience that empowers our students, as they enter the Architecture, Engineer, Construction (AEC) industry in their chosen discipline, to become ethical leaders addressing the pervasive social inequities of housing, gender, and climate.

In 2022, UMDB completed the construction of a 350 square foot, net-zero ready accessory dwelling unit (ADU). After being showcased at the Green River Music Festival, the "Hygge House" (HH) was donated to OneHolyoke Community Development Corporation, a not-for-profit community housing provider in Holyoke, MA.

In 2023, UMDB is continuing to partner with OneHolyoke CDC to deliver innovative, small-scale, affordable housing. This year, students were challenged to design a small, complementary house to be co-located with the first house on a small, urban infill site in “the Flats” neighborhood in Holyoke.

The students’ proposal – named the “Paper House” (PH) in reference to Holyoke’s heritage as the Paper City – is an approximately 500 square foot house that includes two small bedrooms to maximize the utility and flexibility of small-scale housing. Designed to be low-carbon and energy positive, the student design exceeds the MA stretch code performance standards and provides a compelling vision for contemporary affordable housing.

In 2024, UMDB continues to partner with OneHolyoke,CDC with the construction of the "8th Sister," a 600+ square foot project that will be located on East Dwight St. in Holyoke where it will not only be a new small home for an undeserved family but also provide a community gathering park for the neighboring residences. The 8th Sister is not only low-carbon, but meets the new most rigorous 2024 International Energy Codes!

Project Faculty Leaders

Design Phase:

Construction Phase:

  • L. Carl Fiocchi – UMass Building and Construction Technology (ECO)
  • Kent Hicks – UMass Building and Construction Technology (ECO)


Contact the faculty members listed above directly for any inquiries.