UMass Amherst campus improvements continue with several projects through fall semester

As the fall semester gets underway, a number of construction and campus improvement projects are progressing.

The Student Union renovation and Worcester Commons projects are taking steps toward completion, while the Campus Core Utilities, Landscaping and Accessibility Project and the improvement of recreational athletic fields have begun.

The shifting fence lines and work areas, especially in the center of campus, may alter pedestrian pathways and access points to certain facilities throughout the semester. Students, faculty and staff are advised to allow extra time for traveling around campus, as they may be required to seek alternate routes.

To help with planning, the Facilities and Campus Services website features an interactive map, showing all major construction, renovation, utility work and vehicle and pedestrian detours on campus.

Small maintenance projects and those with shorter construction schedules may not be visible. Information on these projects can be found at the Facilities’ Work Information Resource Center.

Campus Recreation Turf Fields

5.3 acres of turf fields are being fitted with multi-purpose synthetic turf and shock pads on the Boyden Athletic Field. The fields will be for general campus use, including intramural and recreational activities. Markings for soccer, flag football and softball will be available. Other updates include athletic field lighting, a water bottle filling station, ADA accessible parking and walkway as well as a dedicated equipment storage area.

The project is scheduled for completion this November.

Campus Core Utilities

The Campus Core Utilities, Landscaping and Accessibility Project is a comprehensive upgrade to the center of campus from the Worcester Commons to the Student Union. The $32 million project includes waterproofing underground levels of the Campus Center garage, area utility improvements, new hardscape and landscape designs and the re-establishment of Ellis Way as a main pedestrian corridor. 

Most pathways in the area will be brought into Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, with many also receiving aesthetic improvements.

The Campus Core Utilities Project construction began in May 2019, with nine utility construction phases running through December 2019.

After the major utility work is completed, another series of phased work to affect hardscape and landscape is expected for completion in the fall semester of 2020. 

Due to the phased nature of construction, work areas will be dynamic, with fence lines and pedestrian detours moving as often as week-to-week. 

Updates on walkway closures and changing fence lines can be found on the Facilities and Campus Services website.

Intermittent constriction noise may also be a factor, especially at or near academic buildings. Unacceptable noise levels should be reported to the 24/7 Facilities Solution Center at 545-6401.

Worcester Commons

Construction continues on the new Worcester Commons 87,000-square-foot facility, as daily dining operations continue in the existing building.

The Worcester Dining Commons will now be one part of a facility including meeting rooms, a fitness center and music practice rooms in addition to a retail food café, commercial bakery and a restaurant.

The new building is set to open in the fall 2020 semester. The old building is set to be demolished in the summer of2020 and a replacement for lot 63 will then be available. The fenced-off construction area is expected to remain consistent through the remainder of the project.

Student Union

Work on the two-year Student Union renovation continues this semester, with a completion date set for the fall of 2020.

Designed by Boston architects Shepley Bulfinchthe $62 million renovation project will revitalize the facility as a modern hub for student activity.

In 1957, when the Student Union was built, it was the largest building on campus, servicing 4,800 students. Before the remodel began, over 200 registered student organizations and over 30,000 students made daily use of the building. This growth necessitates renovations and infrastructure upgrades to accommodate modern space and service needs of the student body.