Gunness Hall

Constructed: 1949

Architects: Appleton and Stearns

Design and construction

Gunness Hall Gunness Hall Gunness Hall

Gunness Laboratory is an approximately 21,000 square-foot academic building on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts. The building is not located along a major thoroughfare, but rather joins a complex of interior campus structures.

The one-story building has an I-shaped plan and a symmetrical composition. The main central block includes 13 bays, with the building entrance at the 3 central bays, also defined by a raised attic space. The east and west wings define an entrance forecourt and are each 5 bays wide.

The building exterior is finished with machine-made brick laid in a common-bond pattern from the foundation slab to the parapet. The double-hung windows are visually connected throughout all elevations by a continuous limestone beltcourse at the headers and sills. The building entrance is finished with dressed limestone trabeated facade, including four fluted pilasters beneath a dental cornice and frieze engraved with the building name. Double divided-light doors and with transom are framed within a recessed wood-paneled casework.

The raised attic illuminates the entrance lobby with octagonal windows with wood-frame divided lights at the north and south elevations and double –hung rectangular windows at the east and west.

Gunness Laboratory

Following the early 20th-century construction of Stockbridge Hall, the northeastern quadrant of the campus was devoted to the departments of engineering and the physical sciences. The laboratory complex, including Gunness Laboratory (1949), Marston Hall (1950), Paige Laboratory (1950), the Animal Isolation Laboratory (1953), and Thayer Animal Disease Laboratory (1957) were developed between 1949 and 1957 in the former agricultural fields to the north of Draper Hall. At the time of construction, the area immediately to the north of Draper Hall was occupied by the North Parking Area (extant, reduced in size). Access to the complex was provided by a road that ran from Olmsted Road along the west side of Paige Laboratory, and east between Marston Hall and Gunness Laboratory. Governor’s Drive was constructed to the north of the complex following the completion of the buildings.

Since the completion of the complex, the campus has grown with increased development between the core of the campus and the laboratory complex. New buildings that have impacted the complex include Knowles Engineering Building (1991) to the south and Marcus Hall (1966) to the east. Together with Marston Hall, these buildings defined a new quadrangle to the south of the laboratory complex. The Astronomy Building (1968), located to the north of Gunness Hall, has also impacted the landscape associated with Gunness Hall.

The addition of vehicular and pedestrian circulation routes, and surface parking has increased the paved surface of the complex. New vegetation has been added to Gunness Laboratory, which once featured simple foundation planting at the main entrance on the southern façade and a few deciduous trees over mown lawn between the building and the street.

Naming of the Building

Named in honor of Christian I. Gunness, Professor of Rural Engineering at Massachusetts Agricultural College.


  • From the Massachusetts Historical Commission, UMass Amherst Building Survey (2009).
g/gunness_hall.txt · Last modified: 2024/07/10 16:23 by awakefield
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