Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.


Access Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



This thesis explores the design of a net-zero community center and apartment complex within the Geneva Cliffs Site in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The project aims to create a sustainable and energy-efficient development that meets the needs of the surrounding community while preserving the historical and industrial heritage of the site. The research delves into various aspects of the design process, including architectural considerations, renewable energy systems, community engagement, and environmental impact. The architectural design focuses on integrating innovative sustainable strategies and materials to achieve net-zero energy performance. Key elements include the utilization of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) for enhanced thermal insulation and soundproofing, as well as other sustainable construction materials such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and locally sourced reclaimed wood. The building design also incorporates energy-efficient windows, advanced HVAC systems, and solar photovoltaic panels to generate renewable energy on-site. Community engagement plays a crucial role in the project, with an emphasis on stakeholder participation and feedback throughout the design process. By involving residents, local organizations, and government officials, the community center and apartment complex are designed to address the specific needs and aspirations of the community. Multi-purpose spaces, meeting rooms, recreational facilities, arts and cultural spaces, childcare facilities, and technology access areas are incorporated to promote social interaction, education, and community engagement. To assess the project's environmental impact, a comprehensive analysis is conducted, including site analysis, solar potential assessment, and life cycle assessments. The findings inform decision-making in terms of site selection, building orientation, and the incorporation of sustainable technologies and practices. The project aims to minimize environmental impact, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance the overall resilience of the development to climate change.

Through the integration of sustainable design principles, community engagement, and thorough environmental analysis, this thesis presents a comprehensive approach to the design of a net-zero community center and apartment complex within the Geneva Cliffs Site in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The research contributes to the fields of sustainable architecture, community development, and urban planning, providing insights and strategies for creating environmentally conscious and community-centric developments that can serve as models for future projects.


First Advisor

Carey Clouse

Second Advisor

Stephen Schreiber