Plans Unveiled to Build a New Future at UMass Lowell

10/24/2007


LOWELL ߝ Chancellor Marty Meehan announced today a sweeping plan for the future of the UMass Lowell campus, including the location of the new Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, as well as plans for two new academic buildings, a 500-space parking garage and additional student housing.

“We need the very best facilities to meet the 21st century needs of teaching, research and service. We must have them if we are going to put Massachusetts in a position to compete and succeed both nationally and globally,” said Meehan.

The $80 million Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC) is the first new academic building constructed on campus in more than 30 years. It will be built at the current location of Smith Hall, a 110-bed dormitory on UML North that was constructed in 1948. A $15 million parking garage will be constructed adjacent to the new building.

The location for the ETIC was chosen over four others ߝ Hamilton Canal District near downtown Lowell, the Lawrence Mills near LeLacheur Park, the University’s parking lot on Riverside Street and the West Campus in Chelmsford. Two additional sites ߝ Cumnock Hall administration building and Smith Hall ߝ were also considered on Meehan’s request after he was named chancellor in July. Smith Hall was selected based on its highly visible location after careful evaluation of all six proposed sites, a recommendation from the site selection committee, and feedback from the UMass Lowell campus, surrounding neighborhood and city.

“If we are investing $80 million in state, federal and University funding, it is important that this building be a cornerstone of the campus,” said Meehan. “This location is especially appealing given that the city’s new bridge will be directly across from our new building, creating a scenic gateway to the campus.”

The 97,000-square-foot Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center will house nano- and bio-manufacturing research along with other leading-edge work in a green facility. The center, which already has $35 million in state support approved,  is expected to spawn entire new industries, particularly in nanomanufacturing, as well as move companies in the life sciences fields from research and development toward full-scale production. The advanced research center’s location in a high-tech region will foster collaboration in the business world as well as improve the academic experience of students.

“From the heyday of the textile mills to today, UMass Lowell has helped drive the regional economy,” said Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “This Emerging Technologies Center ߝ like a rock dropped into the Merrimack River ߝ will generate waves of new technologies, new industries and new jobs.”

“The students who attend UMass Lowell deserve new facilities, like the Emerging Technologies Center, to expose them to cutting-edge research,” said Rep. Kevin Murphy, House chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. “It’s time we invested in a building program in our public higher education system, and I’m pleased to see UMass Lowell leading the way.”

In addition to the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, the plans to expand UMass Lowell include:

  • Additional student housing designed to increase the University’s 8,500 undergraduate students who live on campus from 25 to 50 percent. Existing University property on Perkins Street is being reviewed. Requests for proposals will be sought for sites adjacent to or on the East Campus and UML South. In addition to replacing the 110 beds that will be lost when Smith Hall is razed, new student housing will be built where students want to live, according to a recent survey.
  • Two new academic buildings, one each on UML South and UML North. Business and engineering will likely be the focus of the UML North building.
  • Gov. Deval Patrick’s capital plan proposes $9 Million for renovations to the Institute for Plastics Innovation (IPI) Building on East Campus.  That facility, also a planned innovation center, will house M2D2, the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center ߝ a collaboration with the UMass Medical School in Worcester that is helping companies turn ideas into products. 
  • The Wannalancit building on Suffolk Street will be redesigned to house the UMass Lowell Art Department, allowing students and faculty to be closer and more able to participate in downtown Lowell’s vital creative economy.

Funding for the expansion will come from a variety of sources. The governor’s proposed higher education bond bill calls for $26 million for the new academic building on UML South. Meehan will seek an additional $25 million to fund the new building on UML North. The chancellor is calling on the campus community, faculty, staff, students and alumni to seek alternate revenue streams to fund other aspects of the ambitious plan for the university’s growth.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.