New Amenities Will Give Students More Ways to Enjoy Campus Life
By Ed Brennen
These are just a few of the outdoor amenities coming to the UMass Lowell campus this summer — part of the university’s continued efforts to improve living and learning spaces for students.
“It will be good to see students back on campus,” says Senior Campus Planner Sara Cassidy Smith, who is leading the Facilities Management project. “We’re excited to have this opportunity to enhance existing outdoor spaces and create some new ones for when they return.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to maximize time outdoors, Smith says the university is always looking for ways to provide more student-focused spaces on campus.
The project began with a $100,000 budget but it doubled in size thanks to an additional $100,000 in funding from UML’s Advancement office. The Office of Sustainability also contributed $20,000 for the purchase of solar-powered umbrellas, which students can use to charge their phones and laptops at existing outdoor tables across campus.
To find out what type of outdoor amenities students wanted, the Office of Student Activities and Leadership hosted an open forum on Zoom in March that drew nearly 70 attendees.
“The students were so appreciative to be included in the conversation. It allowed them to brainstorm, dream, and share ideas and challenges about our campus,” says Student Activities Director Sarah Rine.
“The university’s investment in the physical space will help to improve students’ well-being and allow them to connect with others in new ways,” she adds.
Here’s a look at what’s planned on East, South and North campuses:
Campus Recreation Center: Outdoor pingpong tables on the CRC patio and a “hammock garden” on the front lawn. “Students really liked this idea,” Smith says. “The hammocks will hang from permanent bollards that we will install, and the idea is you can bring your own hammock or we will make them available for checkout with your student ID.”
Donahue Hall quad: Volleyball and badminton nets and clusters of Adirondack chairs. “It’s a very student-central, protected space,” Smith says. Logistics are still being worked out, but the plan is for students to check out equipment from the residence hall or CRC, she says.
Fox Commons terrace: Patio heaters and decorative lighting. “We want to make it a little more festive, maybe add some greenery with planters,” Smith says.
University Suites plaza: Solar umbrellas for existing tables, patio heaters, Adirondack chairs and cornhole games. “The umbrellas also provide lighting at night, which will really extend the area’s nighttime use,” Smith says.
Sheehy Hall overlook: Hammock garden, solar lighting on trees and cornhole games. “Can you imagine sitting out here and watching the sunset?” Smith says.
Allen House lawn: Adirondack chairs.
Concordia Hall plaza: Additional table, solar umbrellas, patio heaters and lounge chairs.
Durgin Hall lawn: Lounge chairs.
South Campus quad: Adirondack chairs.
Riverview field: Volleyball/badminton net (near the basketball court).
Southwick Quad: Three picnic tables. “This space feels like it needs some dimension,” Smith says. “The pop of color from the tables will give it a little more visual interest.”
Perry Plaza: Solar umbrellas.
Lawn between ETIC and Lydon Library: Two picnic tables and lounge chairs.
ETIC front lawn: Adirondack chairs, solar-powered lights on trees.
Costello Athletic Center lawn: Adirondack chairs and cornhole games. “We want to bring in some fun stuff and make sure it encompasses as many areas as possible,” Smith says. “If you’re working in Olney Science Center or Pinanski, you can come out and enjoy it.”