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Building Projects Reshape Campus

Campus Transformation Continues

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The new University Suites residence hall on East Campus offers state-of-the-art amenities for 472 students.

By Jill Gambon

Returning to campus after summer break, many people may feel like they need a map to find their way from Alumni Hall to Wannalancit Mills and points in between. Campus looks different and there’s good reason. The building boom that is reshaping UMass Lowell proceeded apace with the completion of two new suite-style residence halls, a new parking garage on South, the University Crossing student engagement center rising up over the Merrimack River, new Division 1-ready athletic fields on North Campus and refreshed classrooms, labs and meeting spaces.

“Our commitment to building a world-class campus is yielding top-notch facilities for learning, research, athletics and student living,” says Chancellor Marty Meehan.

The campus transformation comes at a time of unprecedented growth for the University. During the past academic year, enrollment climbed to 16,330, up 40 percent since 2007. With that growth comes increased demand for everything from housing to lab space; from classrooms to parking to dining options. And the University has responded, opening a total of six new buildings in the past year, including the Health and Social Sciences Building, the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center and the North Campus Garage.

The New Campus ‘Living Room’

Rising fast at the corner of Merrimack and Pawtucket streets is the new University Crossing complex, a $95 million development that will be at the center of student activity. The 230,000-square-foot complex will expand the University’s footprint by 10 percent and offer a one-stop student services center, flagship bookstore, food court, headquarters for all student clubs, event spaces and some administrative offices. The complex, which has been described as the future “living room” of the campus community, includes the four-story building now under construction and renovated buildings that were formerly part of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Over the summer, several University departments including the campus police and dispatch, UCard, Access and Parking Services Office (UCAPS), Information Technology and Environmental and Emergency Management relocated to the renovated space at University Crossing and additional departments will be joining them in the coming months. Construction on the new building is scheduled to wrap up in the fall 2014. 

Suite Living

Nearly 1,000 students will be moving into brand new living quarters, with the opening of Riverview Suites on South Campus and University Suites on East Campus. The first new residence halls to open on campus since 1989, the facilities will offer students numerous in-demand amenities.
Located on four acres adjacent to the Riverview parking lot, the 173,000-square-foot Riverview Suites feature four- and six-person apartments complete with full kitchens and common areas. The building, which will house 510 upperclassmen, also has study and meeting spaces and includes an on-site fitness center.
University Suites, across from the Campus Recreation Center, will be home to 472 students living in a mix of four and six-bed suites, each equipped with kitchenettes, bathrooms and common areas. Every floor of the $54 million building will have common space including full kitchens, lounges and study rooms. Students and visitors can head to the first floor for a bite to eat at the Hawk’s Nest Café or at Red Mango, a national frozen yogurt chain.

Park the Car

The new garage tucked between Mahoney Hall and the Riverview parking lot will offer parking for 762 cars. Upperclassmen commuters, as well as South Campus residents, will have access to the entire garage. Since the new parking facility is opening, the South Campus overflow lot is reverting back to green space with an added bonus: a .2-mile walking track. On East Campus, the Perkins Street Parking Lot has been overhauled, with new paving and landscaping.

Throughout campus, other spaces have been refreshed and updated, including Ball Hall 210 and O’Leary 222, lecture halls that sport new lighting, carpeting, furniture and audio-visual equipment. Office space for the DifferenceMaker program has been created in the ground floor of Lydon Library, offering students room to meet and work on projects. After some updates and repurposing, Mahoney Hall is now home to the Center for Community Engagement and both the Air Force and Army ROTC. Additional groups, including Veterans Services and Campus Ministry, will be moving to the building in the coming weeks.

Behind the scenes, energy systems have been upgraded for greater efficiency and sustainability. Occupancy sensors for lighting have been installed in Ball, Olney and Olsen Halls to better manage electricity demand. The University’s sustainability efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Over the summer, the Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center was awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The pace of construction shows no sign of slowing down, with more updates and construction ahead. Major renovations are underway at Bourgeois Hall and planning has begun for the new Pulichino Tong Business Building, which will house the Robert J. Manning School of Business on North Campus.