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UMass Lowell Breaks Ground on $40 Million Academic Building


New Facility Will Be Home to Popular Majors, Support Growth in Enrollment

LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell broke ground today on a new $40 million, 69,000-square-foot academic building that will be home to three of the university’s most popular majors in health and social sciences and represents the second major construction project underway at the university.

The Health and Social Sciences Building – which will support more than 800 construction and related jobs – will also help UMass Lowell make room for its growing student body, which has seen a 30 percent increase in undergraduates since 2007. The Health and Social Sciences Building will be home to the criminal justice, nursing and psychology programs.

Speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony included Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, Division of Capital Asset Management Commissioner Carole Cornelison, UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, local and state elected officials, and UMass Lowell students Djwan Scott, who is pursuing her master's in gerontology, and Michael Reid, the student trustee. 

The building will offer traditional classrooms and faculty offices, as well as specialized labs, such as simulated hospital rooms and other health-care settings, and research space designed for social sciences. Other features include: 

  • Conference space that will allow more room for students and faculty to collaborate with partners on experiential education and other projects; 
  • A four-story atrium lobby that will promote interaction between faculty and students; 
  • Sustainable design features such as energy-efficient climate control, strategic use of natural light to reduce electric costs, water-efficient landscaping that does not require irrigation; 
  • Three-quarters of the construction debris from the project will be recycled.
The architects on the building are Cambridge Seven Associates Inc., a leading design firm that has won awards for its work on academic buildings. Gilbane Building Co. is the general contractor and the Division of Capital Asset Management, the state’s real estate and construction arm, is managing the project. 

The Health and Social Sciences Building will have the capacity to serve nearly 900 students and more than 140 faculty members and, when completed during the 2012-2013 academic year, will free up space in existing academic buildings for other departments to expand.

The groundbreaking marks the official start of the second major construction project at UMass Lowell; the new Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center is underway on North Campus. While South Campus buildings have undergone renovations over the years, the Health and Social Sciences Building is the first new construction from the ground up since the mid-1970s.

“These two buildings symbolize a revitalization of UMass Lowell’s campus complex on both sides of the Merrimack River. The simultaneous projects are part of the first major physical transformation of the university in more than three decades,” said Meehan. 

In addition to the new buildings, UMass Lowell has made a series of significant property acquisitions since 2009: the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell and University Crossing, formerly St. Joseph’s Hospital. In addition, UMass Lowell plans to construct two new parking garages, one each on the North and South campuses, and a residence hall on East Campus. 
Funding for the new Health and Social Sciences Building was provided through the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Bond Bill of 2008. 

“The Patrick-Murray Administration remains firmly committed to providing the support our public campuses need to provide an excellent education for all students,” said Reville. “We are fortunate to educate highly motivated students and to work with talented faculty and staff and these funds will ensure they have access to the facilities they need to be successful.”

“Today, we celebrate another milestone in the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to building world-class public higher education facilities,” said Cornelison.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. The university offers its 14,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

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