UMass: Among Boston’s Busiest Construction Sites
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On Wednesday, UMass Boston will cut the ribbon on its $182M Integrated Sciences Complex. The research and academic facility is part of a $750M pipeline of campus projects designed to bring the ‘70s-era university into the modern age.
The building—six years in the making—is filled with labs for research in the physical sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science, UMass director of campus planning Susan Wolfson tells us. While it has labs for undergraduate teaching and research, it'll also house top-tier university researchers from its Infant Cognition Lab and Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy, a collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since (like most new UMass Boston projects) it’s being built on the existing campus, the development price tag doesn't include any land costs.
The soaring glass and steel five-story atrium creates drama befitting the university’s first new academic building to open in 40 years. It stands in stark contrast to the forbidding, bunker-like structures that have dominated the campus. The ISC provides room for students to do lab work, research and academics, and gives UMass scientists state-of-the-art facilities to rival those at Harvard and MIT. The state Division of Capital Asset Management managed construction of the 200k SF complex designed by Goody Clancy and built by Walsh Brothers.
To complement the latest in pedagogy, a second new building called General Academic Building 1 will deliver high-tech classrooms with flexible layouts that allow professors to facilitate the learning process rather than spoon feed information to students, Susan tells us. The general purpose classrooms will serve the entire campus but include specialized instructional space for chemistry, fine art and the performing arts. That means a 200-set recital hall, a performing arts theater and a dance studio. Construction started on the $130M project designed by Wilson Architects in early 2012 with completion slated for early next year.
Utility service and travel around the campus that overlooks Dorchester Bay—with stunning views of downtown Boston and Quincy—is being brought into the 21st century by a $175M utility and road relocation project designed by BVH Integrated Services and Sasaki. Everything from water pipes to electricity, gas and telecom lines is being removed from beneath a shuttered parking garage and placed instead under the campus' perimeter ring road. Some one-way streets that make travel circuitous and time-consuming will become two ways for easier, faster access. The project will introduce sidewalks, bike lanes and tree lawns and is slated for 2017 completion.
Next year, Susan hopes the university will break ground on General Academic Building 2 being designed by NBBJ, and have it ready for students by late 2018—an ambitious schedule. The 125k SF facility will house general purpose classrooms, and the college of nursing and health sciences. Also being planned: the $70M renovation of two existing academic buildings and residence halls to house students on campus—1,000 of them—for the first time. The UMass Building Authority has invited private developers to partner with it on the campus housing.