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UMass Boston's New $500M Look

Boston Other

Yesterday’s topping off of UMAss Boston’s $120M academic building—its first classroom building in 40 years—pushes forward the school's $500M expansion and campus upgrades that are already underway. It’s also key to the $3.8B capital improvement plan for the five-campus state university. UMass Boston is getting the facilities to match its value proposition, chancellor J. Keith Motley tells us. (They always say to dress for the job—or prestige—you want.)


The 190k SF chemistry, fine arts, and performing arts General Academic Building 1 also allows the university to boost its enrollment from 9,000 students 10 years ago to 17,000 now and perhaps 18,000 next year. (It also offers the potential of getting chemistry students to help with some pretty cool stage special effects.) It'll bring together a cross-section of students and faculty in a state-of-the-art building with classrooms, labs, café, study areas, and a 500-seat lecture hall-cum-performance space. The school's undergoing its first major overhaul since it was built in the ‘70s, and some buildings were practically falling into the water, he tells us. 


GAB1 will be a new anchor facility for the campus, where the $185M Integrated Science Complex and the $90M Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate are also under construction, says UMass Building Authority executive director Patricia Filippone. They’re both slated for completion in August to be ready for students in the fall. (For an unfortunate few students they'll sleep there more often than not.) In addition, the campus roadways and harborwalk are being reconfigured and utilities for the entire campus are being rebuilt. Next year, the chancellor hopes construction will start on residence halls, housing that’s critical for the growing student body. 


The four-story GAB 1, designed by Wilson Architects (Gilbane is the GC and Joslin Lesser the owner’s rep) will have nearly 2,000 classroom seats, a theater, and 150-seat recital hall. Other major projects in the state’s $3.8B capital plan for 2014 to 2018 include: the $350M Albert L. Sherman Center at UMass Medical School in Worcester and University Crossing Lowell,a $95M, 144k SF student services center open to the public with a bookstore, food court, 500-person event space, and meeting rooms.