Renovation vs Demolition


Renovation supports the values of repurposing and reusing that are cornerstones of SUSTAINABILITY and GREEN DESIGN. The unnecessary and wasteful demolition of 40% of the Jones Library building, (including the entire 1993 Addition and parts of the original 1928 building), would create more than 1,660+ TONS (or 207+ large dumpster loads) of demolition debris. Demolition is a major contributor to climate change. In addition, the loss of mature trees in the Kinsey Memorial Garden on the Library grounds, and the lack of green energy features in the building design makes the Demolition-Expansion UN-GREEN and UNSUSTAINABLE. The Trustees' Demolition-Expansion design does not include solar panels. Amherst has achieved Green Community status, but environmentally, this expansion would move Amherst in the wrong direction.

 UMass Amherst preservation expert, Max Page, describes a sustainable approach:

"In addition, saving historic places and reusing them must be a cornerstone of environmental sustainability. Nearly half of all greenhouse gases are produced in the construction, demolition, and operation of commercial and residential buildings. We need to find ways that the preservation movement can join the conservation movement to achieve more sustainable communities. For the preservation movement to fully embrace its role in the fight against global warming, we must jettison some of our concern with aesthetics. We must change what we mean by "value" in old places. We need to save and reuse even "ugly" old buildings because demolishing and replacing them contributes to the problem of climate change."  Quote from "Why Preservation Matters", Max Page, Yale University Press, 2016.


The design of the Demolition-Expansion reflects a "new and bigger is better" approach that was developed with very little input from the wider community. Residents who attended Library Trustee meetings early in the process were shocked to discover that the original design for an expansion contained NO historic preservation elements. The architects were not given a mandate by the Library Director and Library Trustees in the contract to preserve historic features. After several residents protested the potential loss of historic features such as the walnut staircase and paneling near the Library entrance, concessions were proposed to retain some historical features, but a Historic Structures Report has not been completed and several features of the currently proposed design violate the Historic Preservation agreement signed by the Town and Library Trustees.

Goodwin meeting room  in the historic 1928 part of building.


A December 2016 letter from the Massachusetts Historical Commission specified that data, photos, sketches, etc., are required to determine any "adverse effects" on the Jones Library as well as the 1750s era Strong House next door. Both of these properties are on the State and National Register of Historic Places, which requires a review by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Library is located in the historic Amherst Downtown Business district.

In addition, a public informational meeting has not yet been scheduled at which members of the public would be given an opportunity to propose prudent and feasible ways to eliminate, minimize, and mitigate "adverse effects" from the Demolition-Expansion. 

Goodwin Room.jpeg

Special Collections in 1993 Addition slated for demolition.


The Demolition-Expansion is extravagantly costly at $49 MILLION in total costs. This figure includes $13.4 million in interest over 25 years, which is factored into payments on the debt. These interest costs are not included in the Trustees' cost estimates. Even subtracting a potential State construction grant of $13.7 million and potential gifts of $6 million and other funding sources, this Demolition-Expansion would still saddle Amherst taxpayers with at least $29.5 million in payments (nearly twice the Trustees' publicly quoted $16 million). In contrast, a Renovation would be a far more cost effective way to upgrade the Jones Library, enhance services, meet accessibility needs and keep Amherst affordable for everyone.


The proposed design of the Demolition-Expansion is out-of-scale on the site and with its neighbors and out of character in Amherst's historic district.  This proposed expansion is based on a "new and bigger is better" philosophy that is in sharp contrast to the sustainable practice of preserving and renovating historic buildings. Downtown Amherst is currently being impacted by new 5-story buildings that are changing the character of our historic college town. 

The scale of the proposed Demolition-Expansion is shown via a google map view of the Jones Library's current footprint in comparison to its residential and business neighbors. The design of the Demolition-Expansion would expand the building size to the edges of the property boundary (indicated on map by the red line) and dwarf the Library's historic neighbors. The Demolition-Expansion would also destroy the Kinsey Memorial Garden with its mature canopy of trees and build right up to the CVS parking lot. 
The photo shows the rear view of the 1993 brick addition (slated for demolition) with a gambrel roof that mirrors the roof design of the 1750s era Strong House Museum next door. The Kinsey Memorial Garden is in the foreground. The metal roof on the 26 year-old brick addition has a 50+ year life span. The 1993 brick addition harmonizes in both scale and character with Amherst's historic district.
Photo of Garden.JPG

This Demolition-Expansion would spend nearly $50 million on a bigger-but-not-better Jones Library building and provide NO additional books!