New $95 million student center transforms UMass Lowell

| September 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lowell, Mass – UMass Lowell today officially opened its new, $95 million student-engagement center at University Crossing and with it, a new era in the institution’s history.

 

A vibrant space for the campus and community, University Crossing is the hub that links UMass Lowell’s South, North and East campuses with the city’s downtown business district and cultural attractions. For UMass Lowell students, the center brings together for the first time under one roof all the services they need to complement their classroom experience. With its cutting-edge sustainable and contemporary design, four-story glass front and views of the Merrimack River, the complex is as beautiful as it is functional. Take a virtual tour of University Crossing at  http://vatour-dev.com/system/tours/umass-lowell/universitycrossing/tourfiles/index.html.

 

The new student-engagement center is the 10th building opened in five years by UMass Lowell, which has aggressively grown its academic and research facilities and student residence halls to accommodate nearly a 50 percent increase in enrollment over the last seven years. This fall, for the first time in UMass Lowell’s history, total enrollment tops 17,000 and the undergraduate population numbers more than 10,000.

 

More than 200 people – UMass Lowell students, faculty and staff, along with University of Massachusetts, state and local leaders – officially opened the center during an event in the lobby at the foot of a large latticework installation that hangs from the ceiling. Known as “The Lantern,” the structure is a dramatic series of wooden panels that helps to reflect light into the building and dampen sound.

 

“This world-class student center at University Crossing stands at the heart of UMass Lowell’s unprecedented transformation by providing centralized access to critical student resources. It also provides a space for our students and the public to come together to collaborate, learn and engage in issues important to the campus and community,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “We will make this building a dynamic resource for current and future generations of students and neighbors.”

 

“As a student, it has been remarkable to watch the transformation of UMass Lowell unfold throughout every facet of the university. Each one of our new buildings has been a testament to the tremendous progress we have seen here in the past several years but the opening of this building is especially monumental because it will serve the unique role of unifying our campus and strengthening the student body,” said Amanda Robinson, president of the UMass Lowell Student Government Association and a business administration major from Hingham.

 

UMass Lowell’s offices of admissions, residence life, student activities and leadership, the registrar, financial aid and career services – among many others – are located at the student-engagement center and are connected through the one-stop Solution Center.  University Crossing also serves as a “club hub” with team-building and work space for more than 200 of UMass Lowell’s student-run organizations.

 

The building also includes features for the public such as a new flagship bookstore, the River Hawk Shop, the Crossroads Cafe and a large, sunny lobby where free programs like the university’s new series featuring best-selling authors will be held starting Friday, Sept. 19.

 

Along with Meehan and Robinson, event speakers included UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Henry Thomas III, UMass President Robert Caret, state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, state Rep. Thomas Golden, Lowell City Manager Kevin Murphy and UMass Student Trustee Phillip Geoffroy.

 

University Crossing is located on the former site of St. Joseph’s Hospital, which was acquired in 2011 by the UMass Building Authority on behalf of UMass Lowell. Philip Johnston, the authority’s chairman, said the progress being achieved at UMass Lowell is an inspiration to fellow campuses in the UMass system.

 

“When I look at this building and I look at the transformation on this campus…I think to myself, this is the way it should be,” he said.

 

University Crossing adds a total of 230,000 square feet to UMass Lowell’s footprint, with 144,000 square feet in new construction for the student-engagement center and 86,000 square feet of renovated space that houses other UMass Lowell departments including University Police, parking, transportation and environmental management.

 

“As the landscape of UMass Lowell continues to grow and develop with new facilities and game-changing renovations, this new student center is the critical connection point that ties the East, North and South campuses together,” said Patricia Filippone, interim executive director of the UMass Building Authority.

 

“UMass Lowell is expanding to fulfill the needs of its ever-growing student body. University Crossing not only unifies our three campuses, it also provides a central location where the entire UMass Lowell community can gather, learn and thrive,” said Laurence Siegel, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and university events.

 

University Crossing also features event space for the campus and public, including Jacqueline and Edward Moloney Hall, which can accommodate up to 500 people. Jacqueline Moloney ’75, ’92, UMass Lowell’s executive vice chancellor, has played a vital role in the most significant growth period in the university’s history; her husband, Edward Moloney Jr. is a lawyer with a practice in Lowell. The university named the hall in honor of the couple, whose latest gift to UMass Lowell brings their lifetime giving to $250,000.

 

The event concluded with the UMass Lowell Marching Band performing the university’s brand-new and first-ever fight song, “River Hawk Pride,” which echoed through the center as balloons fell. The song – co-written by Music Department faculty members Daniel Lutz, director of university bands, and Debra-Nicole Huber ’89, associate director of university bands – will become a staple at UMass Lowell’s NCAA Division I athletic competitions.

 

University Crossing meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Along with the Lantern, the building’s energy-saving features include daylight harvesting controls that reduce use of electric light; rooftop plantings that absorb rainwater, provide insulation and reduce the effects of heat; and all flooring and furnishings made with low-emissions materials to promote healthy air quality. New materials from regionally sourced suppliers were used wherever possible.

 

The student center was designed by Perkins + Will. Construction management was provided by Joslin, Lesser + Associates and the general contractor was Shawmut Design and Construction.

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