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Facility Improvements, New Maintenance Plan Address Student Needs
LOWELL -- UMass Lowell today announced that an $11.8 million renovation project and maintenance contract will prepare the campus’s largest housing facility, Fox Hall, to meet the needs of current and future students, providing 119 new beds for the start of the fall 2009 semester.
“A 23 percent increase in freshman student enrollment this year tells us more students are choosing UMass Lowell. Many of them want to live on campus. By revamping our largest residence hall, we will have more rooms to meet some of that need. The renovations also will improve student life and provide about 200 construction jobs,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan.
“We have an immediate need for new beds,” said Dean of Students Larry Siegel. “We are pleased that the renovation plan goes beyond simply providing housing and will also enable us to pilot ‘living learning communities’ in our residence halls.” Chancellor Meehan also has set a goal of a 50-50 mix of resident to non-resident students. Currently, that ratio is about 32 percent resident to 68 percent commuter.
The UMass Building Authority is running the renovation project. “We were pleased that Dellbrook’s bid came in below our original cost estimates, allowing us to get the most value for UMass Lowell’s students,” said David MacKenzie, executive director of the Building Authority.
The Building Authority and the project’s architect, ADD Inc., had estimated the costs about $15 million. Dellbrook Construction, headquartered in Braintree, was chosen in December through a competitive bid process. The Building Authority is responsible for the oversight and maintenance of all residence halls across the UMass system. Revenue bonds will finance the Fox Hall project, and the debt service will be covered largely with student housing fees.
Joanne Yestramski, vice chancellor for Administration, Finance, Facilities and Technology, said that the campus also has contracted with a cleaning company, UGL Unicco, to provide daily maintenance in Fox Hall. “Our goals were to protect our renovation investment with improved maintenance of the facility; service students better by providing seven-day-per-week cleaning rather than five; and save money for UMass Lowell,” she said. The contract with Unicco, finalized this week, will meet those goals, saving the campus more than $150,000. “That cost savings helped ensure that we could retain all our full-time housekeeping staff despite steep state-mandated budget cuts that resulted in lay offs in other areas,” said Yestramsi.
Demolition is currently under way in Fox Hall’s 4th, 5th and 6th floors, which had consisted primarily of office and classroom space. It will be reconfigured as housing units. They will be clustered together to allow 15-18 students with common interests to reside in “living learning communities,” with their own bathrooms and lounges. Student Life staff will convene focus groups next semester to help determine what themes would appeal to students, such as globalization, culinary arts, or culture.
In addition to more beds and clustering rooms, the renovation project addresses code and infrastructure problems in the 35 year old Fox Hall. Upgrades include:
- An improved security system;
- ADA compliance in elevators and living areas,
- HVAC and domestic water upgrades, and air conditioning the first six floors of the 18-story building, including the dining hall serving the 1500 students residing on UMass Lowell East.
Fox Hall, with 18 floors, is the tallest building in Lowell. It currently has 546 beds for both males and females, freshmen to seniors, which will increase to 665 at the project’s completion. About 2,500 students currently reside in UMass Lowell housing, including those living in UMass Lowell at the Radisson, a partnership with the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, NH, undertaken this academic year.
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 of the region. UML offers its 12,000 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