Suffolk breaks ground on large housing/dining complex for UMass Dartmouth

This is the first phase of a large construction/renovation plan for the school’s main campus.

December 10, 2018 |

A 38,000-sf dining hall, bookended by two residence halls with more than 1,200 beds, are under construction on the North Dartmouth, Mass., main campus of the University of Massachusetts. Image: Suffolk

The national general contractor Suffolk has had a longstanding relationship with the University of Massachusetts. Over the years it has built nine residential facilities on that institution’s 9,000-student campus at North Dartmouth, Mass., between Providence and Cape Cod, including the 800-bed Pine Dale and Oak Glen halls, and the 1,200-bed Woodland apartment complex.

Last month, the partners broke ground on a $134 million housing and dining complex on Parking Lot 7 near the university’s Campus Center and College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The project, when completed in the fall of 2020, will replace four residence halls that opened in 1976. It includes a 1,210-bed, 267,000-sf housing complex in two buildings, with an estimated cost of $108 million. These facilities will have classrooms, multimedia and study lounges, demonstration kitchens, and recreational spaces. A technology equipped maker space will enable students to work in groups. The buildings will also have soundproof music practice rooms and two computer learning commons.

The housing builldings will flank a $26 million, 38,000-sf student dining commons with an 800-person capacity, which replaces the university’s main dining hall built in 1977. Its design includes a large flat top grill where students can see their meals being prepared.

“Our team has worked in collaboration with the University from the beginning and we are excited to deliver a facility that will meet the unique needs of their students and faculty for decades to come,” says Randy Kreie, Principal and President of DiMella Shaffer, the construction’s design architect.

The residence halls are being built through a private-public partnership between the university and Greystar, which specializes in housing development and management. No state taxpayer funds will be used, and the project won’t add to the university’s debt. (The project is being financed through the UMass Building Authority.)

This is the first major state-funded building project on this campus since 1980, and represents the first phase of Chancellor Robert E. Johnson’s plan to focus capital investment on the 710-acre UMass Dartmouth main campus. (As part of the current project’s overall scope, the campus’s Science and Engineering Building is undergoing a $54 million renovation that is partly financed by $25 million in state funds.) Future initiatives will include renovation and modernization of academic buildings, the campus center, road infrastructure, and athletic facilities.

“We know from studies and our own extensive experience that providing high-quality living-learning environments for students increases graduation rates, retention rates and academic performance,” says UMass President Marty Meehan. “This project represents an investment in student success and student opportunity at UMass Dartmouth, which by extension will benefit the SouthCoast and the entire Commonwealth.”

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