By Hiroko Sato
LOWELL -- This winter, which had been relatively mild until the snowstorm last weekend, helped University of Massachusetts Lowell make progress on construction of its two dormitory buildings.
Construction crews are keeping busy building University Suites, the 148,000-square-foot building on Aiken Street, and Riverview Suites, the 173,000-square-foot building on South Campus, which are both slated for openings in the fall.
Roger Hall, project manager for the University Suites construction, said the weather has been cooperative for the most part and deliveries of building materials have been on time. Workers will begin installing drywalls this week, Hall said on Friday.
The $54 million University Suites will accommodate 472 sophomores, juniors and seniors in four- and six-bed units. The building will also have faculty residences as well as an "honors program" floor where only those participating in the academic enrichment program can qualify to live, according to Joe McCarthy, director of residence life at UMass Lowell. University Suites is the first new residence hall on campus in two decades.
The $42 million Riverview Suites, which will house 510 students, is being built by Soho Development, from which the university will lease the facility.
The university, which is aiming to become a more traditional university rather than a commuter school, has said it needs more dorm rooms as enrollment has risen.
The university has 15,000 full- and part-time students in its undergraduate and graduate programs, according to the school's website, and 3,500 students live on campus.