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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston quad to begin opening in January

Olivia Reid
Construction workers finish up some of the ongoing campus construction. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

For members of the UMass Boston community, the construction surrounding campus—specifically that on the new quad—has become almost synonymous with campus itself. Since construction began on the space in 2020, students, faculty and staff have begun to associate their experience at UMass Boston with not only oceanside views and images of Bobby Beacon, but also construction vehicles and workers in familiar neon shades of safety yellow and orange.

However, some parts of the construction are coming to an end as the Fall 2023 semester wraps up. As community members may have seen on their walks to class, much of the quad has been paved, and the exterior steps to Healey Library are being finalized. Still, many members may feel as though construction is endless, with the fences surrounding the quad being a permanent installation on campus.

Director of Campus Planning Dennis Swinford was able to give insight into what the timeline for the opening of the new space will look like via a presentation to Vice Chancellor Karen Ferrer-Muñiz’s Undergraduate Student Leadership Council, in which he shared what to expect with the developing space.

According to Swinford, the construction is nearly finished, and efforts to allow community members on portions of the space will begin as early as January 2024. While this will not mean students will have the chance to spread out across the lawns, it will mean that some early aspects—such as the stairs to Healey Library and a new parking lot—will be open come spring semester. The stairs to Healey are estimated to be ready to open come December, and with it will come the removal of some fences surrounding the new paths.

In an email, Swinford explained that this parking lot will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis for all members of the UMass Boston community.

This doesn’t mean the campus is open completely, though. Swinford warned that though the paths and parking lot will be open to the public come January, the full quad won’t be ready for at least a year. Beyond the ice and snow that will likely cover the green spaces from January through March, the grass in these green spaces will still need time to grow.

Despite the delays due to construction and weather, many good things regarding the quad are on the horizon. The quad will soon be home to many activities and events, including everyday amenities like picnic spaces and places to spend time with friends, core programming like fitness classes and yoga classes, seasonal programming like Welcome Week and possibly even special events like graduation. According to Swinford, the quad is what students want to make of it, whether that will be weekly tabling events, club fairs, movie nights or performances.

In addition, the integration of this new space on campus can serve as not only a communal space, but an environmental haven. The quad can serve as a living lab for students in the School for the Environment, as well as work to help reduce the university’s carbon footprint through the planting of new trees and plants.

Swinford also added in an email that the new seeded meadow near the Beacon Walk “…is a mix of native grasses. This meadow will serve as habitat and will require less mowing and watering making it very sustainable. It also plays an important part in managing the stormwater which will fall on the site by helping to filter the water prior to going into the groundwater.”

With spaces like this, there can often be a question of inclusivity, specifically for those in the community who may use mobility aids like wheelchairs, canes or crutches. Though portions of the new quad may appear steep, Swinford assures that it will be accessible for everyone in the UMass Boston community.

“The walks and paths are completely accessible,” Swinford said in an email. “…Our colleagues with physical challenges will be able to walk [and] roll freely alongside everyone else.”

Despite the delays, the quad looks to mark a new era for UMass Boston. Not just one of eco-friendliness or accessibility, but one of community.

“Open spaces like this tend to be where everybody comes together,” said Swinford during the Undergraduate Student Leadership Council meeting. “It can really allow us to practice inclusivity and diversity in a way that the campus has been missing for a long time.”

About the Contributors
Katrina Sanville, Editor-In-Chief
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor