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UMass Lowell to Build First New Residence Hall in Two Decades

University Suites to Accommodate More Students, Transform Campus

Aiken St. Courtyard
An artist's rendering of what University Suites will look like upon completion.


Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or

LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell leaders broke ground today on the state-of-the-art, $54 million University Suites –  the first new residence hall on campus in two decades – which will allow more students to live at the university in a greater variety of housing options.

The new residence hall will help UMass Lowell achieve its goal of a 50-50 split between commuter and residential students, a priority identified by Chancellor Marty Meehan shortly after he was named to the post in 2007. 

Construction on the University Suites residence hall on Aiken Street officially got under way after a brief speaking program at the UMass Lowell Campus Recreation Center. Event participants included Meehan, state Rep. Thomas Golden, Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy, UMass Building Authority Executive Director Katherine Craven and Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland.  

“Student enrollment has climbed to more than 15,000 – a 37 percent increase over the past three years – and with it, the demand for housing,” Meehan said. “This new residence hall, the university’s first since 1989, meets that demand, providing a state-of-the-art environment for student living and learning, while maintaining the inspired architectural style and landscaping of Lowell’s historic district.” 

Slated to open for the Fall 2013 semester, the 148,000-square-foot building represents a new model of campus housing in an all-suites building. The hall will house 472 students in four- and six-bed units and will include two common kitchen/lounge areas, two quiet study rooms and a group study room on each floor. A first-floor common area, open to the UMass Lowell community, will feature a café, a multi-purpose room and a 70-inch, high-definition television. A courtyard outside the brick, U-shaped building will face the Campus Recreation Center and include a seating area for outdoor events. 

University Suites will be constructed in part with recycled materials and with the goal of maximum energy efficiency throughout, striving for LEED Silver certification. The building’s architectural design evokes Lowell’s textile and industrial heritage and complements the Northern Canal neighborhood, which includes LeLacheur Park, home of the Lowell Spinners, and the former Lawrence Mills.

Research shows students who live on campus are more apt to be academically successful and the university community is more cohesive when a greater number of students live on campus. 

“UMass Lowell has successfully encouraged students to live on campus. Today that number sits at 40 percent of undergraduates, up from 28 percent five years ago,” said UMass Lowell Dean of Students Larry Siegel. “Our vision is to increase the residential community to 50 percent while offering the ideal variety of living options in first-class facilities that are comparable to those at other leading institutions across the country.”

Surveys of UMass Lowell students have shown that more want to live on East Campus, near the rec center, ballpark and Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, as well as the city’s downtown.

The UMass Building Authority, through which the cost of the residence hall is being bonded, has oversight of the project which is being managed by Joslin, Lesser + Associates Inc. of Watertown. The building’s architect is ADD Inc. of Boston. Walsh Brothers of Boston is the building’s construction manager. 

“University Suites not only fulfills a great need for more student housing, but offers students the best in campus living,” Craven said. “The building is state-of-the-art and energy-efficient, while remaining true in its architecture and appearance to the textile and industrial histories of Lowell.”

University Suites is the latest project in UMass Lowell’s multi-faceted building boom. Also under construction is the $70 million Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center on North Campus. The 84,000-square-foot research and academic facility will be the hub of industry partnerships and new manufacturing technologies led by world-renowned, next-generation scientists. The building will open this fall. 

Meanwhile, the 69,000-square-foot Health and Social Sciences Building is also under way. The first new academic building to be constructed from the ground up on UMass Lowell’s South Campus in more than 30 years, it will house some of the university’s most popular majors: criminal justice and criminology, nursing and psychology. The $40 million building is slated to open in Spring 2013. Two new parking garages are also under construction, one each on UMass Lowell’s North and South campuses. Apartment-style housing for 510 students adjacent to south campus, under construction by a private developer, is also scheduled to open in Fall 2013.  

UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.

For more than 50 years, the UMass Building Authority (UMBA), an independent quasi-public authority, has worked to enhance the educational, research and residential environments for the five campuses of the University of Massachusetts. Currently, more than 20 projects are under way on all UMass campuses, including the state-of-the-art Sherman Center at UMass Worcester Medical School, the Integrated Science Building at UMass Boston, a bio-processing center for UMass Dartmouth, the Emerging Technology and Innovation Center at UMass Lowell, and the Commonwealth Honors College construction at UMass Amherst. Working with the UMass president and Board of Trustees, the UMBA strives to deliver the most cost-effective, highest quality construction of world class research facilities, venture development centers, dormitories and student life facilities and other buildings that strengthen the university’s reputation as one of the top educational institutions in the country and as a top economic development driver for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.