Though a steady wind shook the tent and cold rain poured down outside, Chancellor J. Keith Motley announced that springtime had come to the University of Massachusetts Boston at the February 27 groundbreaking for General Academic Building No. 1.
Addressing an audience of elected officials, construction and design partners, students, faculty, staff, administrators, members of the UMass Board of Trustees, and system President Robert Caret, Motley said that the start of construction on the new facility symbolizes a new chapter in UMass Boston’s history.
“What this signifies is progress,” Motley said. “What this signifies is a trajectory of further growth and revitalization.”
The General Academic Building (GAB) No. 1 is the second new academic facility in UMass Boston’s 25-year campus Master Plan, an outline of physical improvements to the campus. The Integrated Sciences Complex (ISC), opening next fall, is the first new academic building to be constructed on campus since 1974.
When the doors of the GAB No. 1 open in 2015, students and faculty will have access to teaching laboratories, studio space and recital venues for fine arts and the performing arts, study and lounge areas, a café, and nearly 2,000 seats in 26 classrooms. Easing the space crunch for faculty and staff, new offices for both will also be located in the building.
Katherine Craven, executive director of the UMass Building Authority, praised the design of the GAB No. 1 and Wilson Architects, who created the most current rendering.
“It’s a beautiful building of storied proportions and architecture,” she said, combining “form and fashion and beauty and function.”
Many speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony stressed UMass Boston’s commitment to its urban mission throughout its process of campus revitalization. State Representative Martin Walsh credited Motley for his leadership in achieving a balance between enthusiasm for growth and expansion, and retaining the university’s values. “[Motley] has brought a life to the school that’s incredible,” he said. “And he has made sure that the mission of the school is not going to change.”
“We build on great work, we don’t throw it away,” Motley said. “We’ll never turn our back on Boston.”
Despite the gloomy weather, excitement was high for the new building and the opportunities it will provide for students, faculty, and staff. Student Trustee Alexis Marvel explained that from her perspective, the GAB No. 1 represents an investment in students.
“For students, [the GAB No. 1] symbolizes that the hard work they’re putting into this education and degree has weight. It symbolizes that we’re worth it,” she said.