Expanded Riverview Suites Highlights Another Busy Summer
By Ed Brennen
Blue and red are the River Hawks’ official colors, although “Construction Yellow” has been just as prominent across campus in recent years.
The university’s remarkable building boom continued full speed ahead this summer, from the completion of a new wing of residence suites on South Campus to the site excavation of the upcoming $45 million Pulichino Tong Business Building on North.
On every corner of the campus — University Crossing, the Inn and Conference Center, Fox Hall — the sights and sounds of growth and renewal were loud and clear. Here’s a recap of what you missed while you were away:
Riverview Suites, Phase 2
With the university’s continued surge in enrollment has come an increased need for student housing and classroom space. The completion of phase 2 of the Riverview Suites project has helped address both those needs by adding accommodations for 299 students along with 10 new classrooms.
Connected to the first phase of Riverview Suites, which opened in fall 2013, the new six-story, 79,000-square-foot wing features 55 suite-style apartments. Most have three or four bedrooms (there are a few single units) with shared bathrooms and a common living area. The new suites are intended for students on the university meal plan and do not include full kitchens.
Students can unwind in lounges on each floor or in the expanded game room, which has moved to the new wing and doubled in size to include pool, foosball and ping-pong tables. Seven new stackable washer and dryers were added to the laundry room, meanwhile, bringing the total number of units to 24.
Of the 10 new classrooms, which are on the first floor of the new wing, three have rubber flooring, sound systems and mirrors so they can be used as fitness rooms at night. Residents can also take advantage of the building’s existing fitness center.
The first floor is also the new home of the College of Health Sciences
’ Human Assessment Lab
, which has been located in Pinanski Hall since 2012. The new lab space includes four assessment rooms along with staff office and student study spaces.
Students and faculty who take the footbridge to Riverview Suites will find a new enclosed vestibule on the ground floor, improving access to the lobby and fitness center. Faculty members who need a place to work between classes in the new building can now use three new workstations on the first floor.
Combined, the Riverview Suites complex is now home to 809 students and 15 classrooms. The university’s original 10-year lease of the building was extended to 20 years with the completion of phase 2.
Pulichino Tong Business Building
There was a literal building “boom” on North Campus this summer with the periodic blasting of ledge on the site of the new Pulichino Tong Business Building
, the future home of the Manning School of Business
. According to Project Manager Bob Bradley, the blasting finished ahead of schedule, which means the foundation work can now begin a few weeks early.
Scheduled to open in mid-spring 2017, the 54,000-square-foot building will feature a state-of-the-art trading room, 10 classrooms and 150 offices and collaboration spaces. The centerpiece of the building will be a four-story atrium that overlooks an outdoor plaza and connects to Lydon Library.
Along with the Saab Center and nearby academic and laboratory complex, the Pulichino Tong Building will be at the heart of the North Campus Innovation District, which brings the university’s engineering, science and business programs together for students, entrepreneurs and industry partners.
To facilitate the construction site, the accessible entrance to Alumni Hall and Lydon Library has been moved to the opposite side of the buildings near Starbucks, where it will remain until the completion of the project.
The summer construction work coincided with the City of Lowell’s sewer separation project at the intersection of Riverside Street and University Avenue, which was scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the fall semester. Additional city roadwork is expected to impact traffic in the area in mid-October.
McGauvran Student Center
Renovation work continues on the new and improved McGauvran Student Center
, which is on track to reopen this January. The $34 million project will create a “living room for South Campus,” according to Larry Siegel, associate vice chancellor of student affairs.
Students, faculty and staff will find more than 52,000 square feet of new dining space, learning commons and smart classrooms.
The new first floor will feature an all-you-care-to-eat dining facility with seating for 400 students. In addition to pizza and pasta stations, University Dining Services has cooked up several new eating options, including “homecooked” entrees at “Full Plate,” sandwiches from “Broadway Deli,” a salad bar at “Wilder Farms” and gluten-free options at “Choices.” There will also be a late-night takeout grill.
The second floor, meanwhile, will feature retail food options including Subway and Freshii, a Canadian chain that specializes in wraps, burritos, salads and smoothies. There will also be a bakery (which will supply the first-floor dining area with all of its baked goods), a café and a market with grab-and-go options
On the third floor, students will be able to take advantage of seven new smart classrooms and seminar areas, including one for 35 students and another for 50. There will also be a lounge for faculty and staff, as well as a learning common with a fireplace.
Once McGauvran opens, the current Mill City Restaurant will be razed, clearing the way for a green space that will extend from O’Leary Library all the way to Coburn Hall.
Elsewhere on campus
The North Quad renewal infrastructure project
, which involves the construction of two permanent “pods” to improve accessibility, utility infrastructure and amenities at Southwick, Pasteur, Kitson and Falmouth halls, broke ground the week after Commencement. The project, which is expected to be complete in August 2016, will also create a communal green space in the quad. During construction, the Southwick stairwell adjacent to the new pod is closed and the accessible entrance for all connected quad buildings is now through Ball Hall.
- The premier addition to campus last summer, University Crossing, has proven to be a rousing success as a centralized hub of student activity and administrative services — so much so that expanded parking was needed to accommodate the building’s visitors. The Salem Street lot gained 57 new spaces this summer, bringing the total number of parking spaces for University Crossing to 390.
- At Fox Hall, the university’s largest residence hall, the main entrance patio got a facelift. Two new residence director offices were created on the third floor, along with an enhanced lounge area. On the first floor, Rowdy’s replaced Taco Bell as an on-the-go dining option.
- At the Inn and Conference Center, a $1.15 million renovation of the dining facility is underway and expected to be completed by late September.
- In 32 buildings across campus, upgrades are being made to heating, plumbing and lighting systems as part of the three-year, $27 million Accelerated Energy Program, which was announced in April.
- Across campus, residence halls, classrooms, labs and offices have been refreshed and updated. And to keep pace with ever-growing wireless demands, the university’s Information Technology team continues to make system upgrades throughout the academic, administrative and residential areas of campus.