AMHERST, Mass. – Officials from the University of Massachusetts will break ground for four new residence halls to house 864 new beds at the Amherst campus on Friday, Sept. 9, at 1:45 p.m. The event, at the construction site off Eastman Lane, marks the first new on-campus housing construction since the early 1970s.
UMass Amherst Chancellor John V. Lombardi, who will offer opening and closing remarks at the ground-breaking ceremony, says this event signals the beginning of an important new era on the Amherst campus. “These residence halls form part of the transformation of this campus that includes investing in the quality of our academic programs for students, expanding our faculty resources, and repairing and renovating our buildings and grounds. This project symbolizes our commitment to sustaining a nationally preeminent public research university for our students and the Commonwealth.”
Joining Lombardi at the ceremony will be UMass President Jack M. Wilson; James J. Karam, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees; Robert K. Sheridan, trustee and member of the UMass Building Authority; and state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, Senate president pro tempore and alumnus. State Rep. Ellen Story will also be on hand.
The project comprises four new residence halls, each building standing five stories high with brick exteriors and approximately 81,000 square feet. The total estimated cost of the project is $92 million, which includes design, site development and construction. Each individual apartment-style unit will include four bedrooms, air conditioning, two full baths and a common living room/kitchen area, a pantry, floor-to-ceiling windows, and cable and Ethernet connections in each bedroom. Campus officials say the new complex will meet the needs of students who seek on-campus housing but also want a more autonomous living situation. It is expected that the new residence halls will help UMass compete with other top universities that offer similar living options.
The new building complex will be known as the North Residential Area. It is located adjacent to the Sylvan Residential Area to the east, the Totman physical education building to the west and the School of Education to the northwest.
The estimated cost of the project is $92 million with funds coming from bonding by the UMass Building Authority. The architect is ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., and the builder is Dimeo Construction Co. of Providence, R.I. The planned completion date is August 2006.
The buildings on the 19-acre site will be organized around two quadrangles to encourage a sense of community and collegiate competition among the houses. They will be located near outdoor spaces to encourage use of nearby fields and buildings for intramural team use.
UMass currently has 41 residence halls, but none are designed in the apartment-style being used in the new complex. The last residence halls built at UMass Amherst, the Sylvan complex, includes Brown, Cashin and McNamara halls, and was completed in 1971. The oldest residence hall is Thatcher, built in 1935. Overall, UMass has on-campus living spaces for approximately 11,400 students.