UMass Boston cut the ribbon on its state-of-the-art $130 million University Hall on October 17, celebrating the second new academic building to open on campus in the last two years. The four-story, 190,000-square-foot facility provides nearly 2,000 seats of classroom space, along with specialized studios and exhibition spaces for the visual and performing arts.
Chancellor J. Keith Motley was joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, UMass President Marty Meehan, former UMass President William Bulger, local and state officials, and more than 300 students, faculty, and alumni for the ceremony in University Hall’s 500-seat auditorium.
“University Hall was designed particularly to foster a creative academic innovation atmosphere here on campus,” Motley said. “Here Biology students brush elbows with theater majors; history majors run into dancers in the hallway.”
The copper-cladded building, which sits on the northeast corner of campus by Dorchester Bay, boasts 26 classrooms, a 150-seat recital hall, a 500-seat auditorium, and a black box theater with adjacent costume and scene shops. It also houses chemistry labs, study spaces, and specialized instructional spaces.
“Often times I’ll hear people say, ‘Well, why do UMass Boston students and faculty need to have world class facilities and buildings?’ You know what the reason is? Because UMass Boston has world-class students and faculty, and they deserve the best,” Meehan said.
University Hall opened for classes earlier this year, and is already a favorite study spot for students, who flock to the atrium to take in stunning views of the harbor, grab a snack at the Beacon Café, or take advantage of the sound-proof practice rooms open 24-7 to music students.
The new building joins the Integrated Sciences Complex and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate as the newest buildings to open on campus – all within the last couple years. The university is also in the process of building a new 1,000-bed residence hall and a parking garage.
“There’s a lot of momentum on this campus, and we’ll continue to build on that,” Polito said. “This is workforce development. This is economic empowerment. And what I truly believe is the measure of all of our collective success is when our graduates, our kids who go to these wonderful colleges and universities, have the opportunity to succeed right here in our commonwealth.”
“I want to congratulate UMass on this new facility, and I want to thank UMass for everything you do for the city of Boston,” Walsh said. “In our challenges that we have in our city, there’s one common bond that helps all the time-- that’s UMass Boston.”
Along with Motley, Polito, Walsh, and Meehan, event speakers included UMass Trustee and alum Richard Campbell, Provost Winston Langley, state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, UMass Building Authority (UMBA) Executive Director Patricia Filippone, and Sabina Lindsey ’17, a theater arts major.
“University Hall has excited all of us for a long time now, so to finally have the opportunity to study and develop our craft as students and artists is such a gift,” Lindsey said. “We have new spaces for actors, designers, musicians, and dancers to work on their craft. The performance spaces are gorgeous.”
“Now we have facilities that rival with other universities. We always knew that the students and the faculty were the best, but now we have a building to match,” she said.
After the ceremony, visitors were invited to take tours of the building and catch a performance by the UMass Boston chorus, a gallery discussion with artist Todd Pavlisko, and a rehearsal of the Performing Arts Department’s Bat Boy: The Musical.
Funded by UMBA and designed by Wilson Architects, the new building is incorporating many sustainable design strategies and will seek LEED Silver certification. Gilbane Building Company served as the project’s construction manager.
Motley spoke about how these new facilities have greatly enhanced the teaching, learning, and working environment.
“This building is a testament to this campus and its legacy,” Motley said. “It is a physical manifestation of our investment in our students, their success, and the future of Boston, the commonwealth, and the world beyond.”