UMass Boston

Chancellor Cuts Ribbon on New Quad, UMass Boston 2.0

04/11/2024| DeWayne Lehman

Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco and the university community came together on inauguration day, April 5, to celebrate another transformative milestone for UMass Boston, officially unveiling the new campus Quad- the centerpiece of UMass Boston 2.0.

Inauguration Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Image By: Javier Rivas/Jamin Escudero

The sustainable green Quad is the culmination of 15 years of planning, and includes sloping green lawns, ADA-compliant pathways, a new basketball court, and parking lot.

The chancellor was joined by UMass Boston President Martin Meehan, UMass Building Authority Chair Mary Burns, UMass Board of Trustees Chair Stephen Karam, and Barbara Kroncke, executive director of the UMass Building Authority, to cut the ribbon on the long-awaited campus green. Watch the full ceremony.

“In so many ways—symbolically, aesthetically, functionally—at universities across our country, the Quad is the beating heart of the campus, a place of study, reflection, discovery, collaboration, socializing, and fun,” Chancellor Suárez-Orozco said to the audience gathered at the center of the six-acre parcel where four walkways converge. “It is glorious that Beacons will be able to enjoy this Quad as their own.” 

Quad Ribbon Cutting

The Quad replaces an expansive central concrete plaza, originally built when the campus first opened in 1974, that sat atop two floors of garages. Critical structural problems led to the closing of the parking garages in 2006. Constructing the Quad included demolishing the central plaza and outdated Science Center-- an area the size of three football fields. 

“There are a lot of people who worked for decades to get us where we are,” Meehan said, recounting many of the challenges presented by the original campus construction. “I feel really good today because this is a part of the history that is gone, literally buried. So this is a great day. The students at UMass Boston are going to have a facility that they deserve as a result of all of this work.” 

Crushed concrete and bricks from the Science Center were used to construct the base of the Quad, on top of which another 35,000 cubic yards of materials and soil were used for the planting of more than 500 trees and thousands of shrubs and plantings. The new Quad also features more than 50 picnic tables and 30 benches. 

“This is a great day for UMass Boston; for our students, faculty, and staff; and for all who care about high-quality, affordable higher education … right here in our capital city of Boston, Massachusetts,” Burns said. “It’s a day we’re proud of at the UMass Building Authority because we have spent many years—decades really—to get to today.”

The Quad was originally envisioned in the 2009 Campus Master Plan as a central, green connector bringing faculty, staff, and students together when crossing the campus via a number of paths, to interact with each other and enjoy the outdoors. In addition to lawns and gathering spaces, the Quad features an environmentally friendly water management system, where water runoff is cycled through bioswales to lower its temperature and clean impurities before the water percolates back into the ground.

The construction project also addressed the legacy structural issues in the substructure below Wheatley and McCormack halls to ensure safety and a longer life for the buildings.

A new stairway and elevator adjacent to the Quad were added to improve access to the Healey Library.

“These spaces, these buildings we design and inhabit mirror our values and reflect the architecture of care that is UMass Boston, and as our campus continues to evolve in the months and years ahead, building community and bringing people together remains our top priority,” Chancellor Suárez-Orozco said. “This Quad is another step in this direction of UMass Boston 2.0. Indeed, every time we improve the campus, UMass Boston becomes a better, more welcoming place for all.”

Barbara Kroncke speaks at ribbon cutting.

 Much of the massive demolition and construction project was completed during the COVID pandemic. It included workers from every trade union and exceeded its targets for minority and women worker participation, achieving 40 and 10 percent, respectively, according to Kroncke. Of the 421,118 hours logged on the job, 211,000 where performed by women and minorities. 

“Through this project,” she said, “we are at the beginning of what is sure to be a new day for UMass Boston.”