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At a ceremony that included Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas and state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, UMass Lowell broke ground June 8 on the $70 million Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, the first new building in the university’s expansive plan for growth.
The 84,000-square-foot building will be home to experts in cutting-edge fields including nanotechnology, plastics engineering, biomedicine and electro-optics. Recognized as an international leader in advanced manufacturing, UMass Lowell is expected to draw researchers from around the world to collaborate with faculty and students at the center, as well as work hand-in-hand with industry.
The center is expected to be completed in 2012 and will create hundreds of new private sector jobs in its first five years of operation, as well as more than 400 construction industry jobs.
“Today, we celebrate the first new construction in our vision for campus growth. We are educating more students, graduating more students, housing more students and now we are ensuring UMass Lowell’s research enterprise will continue to grow with this signature facility,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “The seeds of the next industrial revolution will be planted by the research conducted inside this building.”
“This project will create hundreds of new construction and supply-line jobs, jumpstarting the local economy,” said Patrick. “The research and development that will take place here will advance the life science and other high-tech industries that are so important to the future of our state’s economy.”
The Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC) will be located at the intersection of University Avenue and VFW Highway. The building’s dramatic facade will welcome those traveling north on a newly constructed University Avenue bridge, serving as a gateway to UMass Lowell’s North Campus.
“When I came here in 2007, I announced a new vision for the university and, despite economic challenges, we have been able to move forward with those plans. The ETIC is an important step and later this year, we will also begin work on a new academic building on South Campus,” said Meehan. The new academic buildings are the latest steps in the growth of the campus, which includes the recent acquisitions of the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center and the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.
Today’s groundbreaking for the ETIC included representatives from federal, state and local government who have supported the project, as well as members of the university community. Speakers included Patrick, Meehan, Tsongas, Panagiotakos, Lowell Mayor James Milinazzo, UMass President Jack Wilson, UMass Building Authority Executive Director David MacKenzie, UMass Lowell Provost Ahmed Abdelal, Vice Provost for Research Julie Chen and Roger Gyebi, who recently graduated from UMass Lowell with his master’s degree in engineering. Other attendees included Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, state Sen. Steven Baddour of Methuen and Rep. James Arciero of Westford.
“A center wholly focused on advanced manufacturing and research and development will help position UMass Lowell and the region to take advantage of growth opportunities in these emerging industries while bringing excellent new jobs to our region,” said Tsongas. “The groundbreaking that we are celebrating today was made possible by local, state and federal partners working cooperatively to keep this project moving forward and helping to secure the long-term health of our region.”
In 2009, UMass Lowell revised plans for the center, retaining the key components central to the ETIC’s mission while removing less critical elements. Because of this strategic approach, the construction cost of the ETIC has been reduced from $80 million to $70 million.
“It is rewarding and fulfilling to see an idea become a reality. The road to this day has certainly been long, but perseverance won out and UMass Lowell will now have a state-of-the-art center to work with emerging technology companies here in Massachusetts. It’s a great economic development project,” said Panagiotakos.
Panagiotakos, Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman, worked with Lowell area Reps. Thomas Golden, Kevin Murphy and David Nangle to garner $35 million in state support for the ETIC through the Massachusetts Economic Investment Act of 2006. Additional funding for the project includes $25 million financed through the UMass Building Authority, and federal monies that include $5 million to equip the building secured over the last few years with the support of Tsongas, U.S. Sen. John Kerry and the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Private donations will also help UMass Lowell make the ETIC a reality. Mark Saab ’81 and his wife Elisia Saab of Lowell, who co-own Advance Polymers Inc. in Salem, N.H., will donate $750,000 to the ETIC. John Kennedy ’70, a Naples, Fla., resident who is the retired president and CEO of Nova Analytics Corp. of Woburn, has pledged $250,000.
The four-story, energy-efficient building will be the centerpiece of the UMass Lowell 2020 strategic plan and will include:
- Critical controls for temperature, humidity and vibration necessary for research;
- Cleanroom space, wet lab, engineering lab space and a plastics processing high bay;
- A plastics museum representing contributions to the industry by Massachusetts companies;
- An outdoor quad-style gathering space that mirrors the original Lowell Tech buildings;
- Meeting areas on each floor for use in collaborative efforts with industry, government and academic partners.
“UMass Lowell, already well-known for its outstanding research partnerships with industry, will now have a facility expressly designed for faculty and students to build even stronger interdisciplinary collaborations with industry, government and other academic partners,” said Wilson.
Turner Construction Co. is building the project, which is managed by Joslin, Lesser + Associates Inc. on behalf of the UMass Building Authority. More than 100 people will be employed directly on the construction, which will also support 350 additional jobs with suppliers and subcontractors. Construction updates will be available at www.uml.edu/progress.