Phase 1 of UMass Dartmouth facilities, land use master plan approved

ON FRIDAY, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's board of trustees approved the first phase of the campus-wide facilities and land use plan. It will include the construction of new first-year housing and renovations to the 1969 science and engineering academic building. / COURTESY UMASS DARTMOUTH
THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS Dartmouth's board of trustees approved the first phase of the campus-wide facilities and land use plan. It will include the construction of new first-year housing and renovations to the 1969 science and engineering academic building. / COURTESY UMASS DARTMOUTH

DARTMOUTH – Phase one of the facilities and land use master plan, announced by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in February, was approved by the schools board of trustees Friday.

Two capital improvements costing $188 million in total – $133.9 million to replace “out-dated” first-year housing and $54.4 million to renovate the science and engineering building, the university’s largest academic facility – make up the first phase of the campus-wide renovation.

The state has committed $25 million to the project, according to the school’s Friday statement, which were approved by the Massachusetts Legislature earlier in 2018 as part of a $950 million higher education construction initiative.

However, the school will continue to pursue state, federal and philanthropic funds in an effort to update its 710-acre campus.

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With an expected groundbreaking in November and grand opening in fall 2020, the $107.8 million, 267,500-square-foot housing development will serve 1,210 first-year students. It will replace four residence halls which were opened in 1976.

Included in the design and outlined in the report are two faculty-in-residence apartments, multimedia and study lounges, kitchens, “maker spaces to encourage collaborative work” as well as music practice rooms and computer learning commons.

The residence hall will be paired with a $26.1 million, 38,000-square-foot dining commons with an 800-person capacity. UMass Dartmouth’s current main dining hall was built in 1977 to accommodate for 1,600 students but now serves 3,200.

Renovations to the 1969-opened science and engineering facility will include roofs, windows, heating and ventilation.

Chancellor Robert E. Johnson, who recently celebrated his first year leading the school, said in a statement: “High quality living and learning facilities are critical to preparing our students to succeed in a highly competitive global economy. When combined with our first-rate faculty, these facilities will guarantee our students the private college educational experience and public university value they so deserve.”

Citing the creation of multiple construction jobs, Johnson said in his remarks, “the regional economic impact of these initiatives will be significant.”

The University of Massachusetts Building Authority will assist with construction management and financing. National collegiate housing developers, EdR, will oversee a public-private partnership with the school which will allow for the project to be completed without adding further to institution’s debt nor the use of state taxpayer funds. Per the Friday announcement, the firm will rely on student rent to finance the project.

EdR will work with design firm of Dimella Shaffer Architects and construction management firm of Suffolk Construction.

New first-year housing and renovation to the science and engineering facility account for nearly 20 percent of UMass’ “deferred maintenance backlog.”

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.