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Clark's Passage


Sunderland Veterans’ Memorial and Park

Durfee Gardens

A Strolling Garden

A Plastic Garden

A Kettle Hole Garden

Bartlett Court

The James Rose Center

Private Access

Clark's Passage

Complete List of Projects

hen the Massachusetts Agricultural College was founded in 1864, William Smith Clark was one of a handful of visionary Massachusetts educators whose imaginations were inspired by the ideal of public democratic education. Here they created a land grant college to educate regional farmers in contemporary agricultural methods and to promote the ideal of equal educational opportunity for all. The resulting campus of orchards, vineyards and fields and a few very elegant buildings--all organized on the principle of the agricultural grid--was an organic expression of the practical, yet idealistic nature of their vision. It was a place which supported social, intellectual and spiritual growth hand in hand with practical agricultural training for its students. The emerging campus was as experimental as the early crops which grew here, testing the means of achieving equality in education in the years after the Civil War.

lark’s Passage is a 600 foot long, four-acre, pedestrian-only district within the Eastern Area of the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. It is a design proposal that resurrects the historic "passage" between the center of Amherst and the heart of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. It replaces what had evolved into a haphazard automobile-oriented landscape. Clark’s Passage includes The Path and The Wall which defines it. It is bounded on the east and west by the facades of historic buildings and Durfee Gardens as well as a series of new courtyards and gathering spaces. It is anchored on either end by new pedestrian plazas.


The Path
is a patterned progression of alternating brick and native stone bands stretching the length of this area and linking all building entrances and open spaces.

The Wall
, composed of brick and native stone, stretches along the edge of The Path and also undergoes a progression: beginning with raw, unrefined and minimally-assembled materials, and ending in a highly-refined, polished and processed stone and brick wall. Throughout, the wall is designed to provide a variety of places to sit.

At The Falls
, The Wall exists in its most primitive state as piles of rocks which the students stream between on their way to the center of the campus. Resurrected from the context of their historic sentences and reassembled in the rocks, words like "agriculture, democracy, duty...etc." are a subtle reminder of the historical, ideological bedrock upon which the school is based. The jumble of rocks and assemblage of words begins in mist and resolves in a waterfall passing over them.

t the opposite end of The Path is The Gate, an ever-changing pattern of water creating a grand gateway through which people pass. The Wall, from which the water emanates, exists in its most refined, highly-polished, finished and assembled state.

The Courtyards
are located beside the path in front of each of the important historic buildings, providing building residents a place to gather.

The Garden
, already in place as Durfee Gardens, is symbolic of the historic fields, orchards and vineyards which formed the early campus of the Massachusetts Agricultural College.

ollectively these elements help to recreate a contemporary expression of a functional and meaningful campus by redressing some of its practical problems and re-establishing our connections to our land grant heritage. Although as yet unbuilt, the design for Clark’s Passage has been published by Landscape Architecture magazine.

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