(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
Big changes continue to happen at the seaside campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston.
On Wednesday the university broke ground on its General Academic Building No.1, the second major project for the school in the past two-years.
The $113-million project will construct an 181,000-square-foot building on a parcel that was once the school’s North Parking Lot.
In addition to housing a 500-seat lecture hall plus a cafe, the new four-story building will provide nearly 2,000 seats of classroom space as well as room for art, chemistry, and performing arts programs.
Situated on the northeast corner of the university's Dorchester campus, the building will strive to be green, designed to be certified LEED Silver.
“This is a new chapter in our history as a university,” UMass Boston Chancellor Keith Motley said at Wednesday’s groundbreaking. “What we are doing is making sure our physical space measures up to the people that fill it.”
Wednesday’s groundbreaking was a step forward for the university in providing its nearly 16,000 students new classrooms, but it is just another phase in the university’s 25-year Master Plan, which was developed in 2007.
In 2011, as part of the plan, the university broke ground on the $185-million, 222,000-square-foot Integrated Sciences Complex. The new center will act as a gateway to the university’s campus and provide much needed space for dry and wet research laboratories along with support space, an infant-cognition lab, undergraduate biology teaching labs, and two research centers.
The new complex is expected to be filled with students by the fall of 2014.
The school is also reconfiguring parking, roadways, pedestrian access routes, and utilities at the campus, including the recent opening of its Bayside parking lot, which has approximately 1,300 spaces, making up for the 388 spaces lost at the North Lot.
Although there is a lot going on at UMass Boston, which welcomed its first freshmen class in 1965, many in attendance Wednesday were quick to remember the school’s first commitment is to its students and the residents of Dorchester and Boston.
“It’s a great step for the university and the system,” said Representative Marty Walsh. “The school has grown, but it’s still a neighborhood school and I don’t think it’s gotten away from its mission. It’s still very important to all of us.”
With ceremonial shovels, politicians, UMass officials, and other dignitaries symbolically broke ground on the project under a torrential downpour Wednesday, with one student reminding everyone why the project was happening.
“It’s so much more than bricks and mortar,” Alexis Marvel, the university’s student trustee, said Wednesday. “It symbolizes that we’re worth it.”
(Rendering courtesy Wilson Architects)