UMass Amherst

Award-Winning Recreational Athletics Field Upgrade


Situated in the Pioneer Valley, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass) welcomes more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually. The Division I school hosts nearly 200 varsity events on campus each year and offers a robust competitive and recreational sports program. In 2018, UMass partnered with Woodard & Curran to upgrade Boyden Fields athletic facilities, including the replacement of natural grass fields with synthetic turf.

Woodard & Curran served as the consulting engineer and athletic facility designer for UMass, completing all planning, cost estimating, permitting, design, and construction administration for the 234,00-square-foot multi-purpose athletic facility. The design included Americans with Disabilities Act accessible walkways and parking, LED athletic field lighting, fencing, water bottle filling stations, stormwater quality treatment and flow attenuation, site drainage upgrades, new electrical service, and supporting subsurface infrastructure. The firm’s comprehensive stepwise approach allowed for the proposed project to be successfully designed and bid, allowing for construction to start on the original approved project schedule and within the project’s approved budget, originally developed during the planning phase.

Project Evolution

Original Grass Field

Concept Rendering

New Synthetic Turf Field

The new facility includes a dual fiber synthetic turf that is infilled with a polymer coated sand and a high performing shock pad and drainage layer system that enhances both player safety and athletic field performance for both player and ball interactions. The facility’s LED lighting reduces light pollution and provides energy conservation over more traditional systems. The drainage upgrades result in stormwater quality treatment and reduced stormwater flows to the wetland resource areas adjacent to the project site, as required to meet Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection requirements. Primary challenges with the design included balancing the earthwork on-site considering the expansive turf area, a significant presence of in-service subsurface utilities to remain, and fitting the new turf fields into the existing facility in a manner that did not disrupt other important programming and functionality of the facility.

Woodard & Curran began the project by completing extensive planning and site investigations and working with UMass person­nel to understand the constraints involved with redeveloping the existing natural grass athletic fields into synthetic turf. This included multiple conceptual layouts and cost estimates for various sizes and quantities of proposed fields at various locations around the facility. Woodard & Curran oversaw all aspects of the planning and design of the project including the surveying, geotechnical investigations, synthetic turf field design, and site electrical and service upgrade to support the facility’s new LED lighting system. The synthetic turf area incorporates permanent playing lines for three soccer fields, four flag football fields, and two softball fields.

The Boyden Fields project was completed in November 2019. Since then, it has received industry accolades including the American Sports Builders Association 2020 Multi-Field Award and the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association 2023 Outstanding Facilities Award.

Project Team

Daniel Windsor AICP, PP, LEED AP Practice Leader Community Development
Steve Lauria PE Sr Project Manager
Tom Shay PE Technical Manager
Scroll back to top of the page