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UMass administration building to be demolished

(Collegian File Photo)

A University of Massachusetts Amherst administration building stands vacant, waiting for demolition. At 111 Thatcher Road, the stacks of aged brick and concrete will be removed to make way for new parking and campus facilities.

Hills House is the name of the four-story building constructed in 1960. Originally a dormitory, over the years it was converted to offices for a variety of departments.

According to University News and Media Relations Associate Director Daniel Fitzgibbons, the building is supposed to be torn down by the end of the semester. Fencing has already been placed around the area, and according to University News Editor Larry Rivias, the site will be flattened and secured over the winter.

“It is a very inefficient, old building with a lot of problems, and it’s just not sufficient to keep running,” said Rivias.

Fitzgibbons explained that old buildings sometimes become incredibly hard to maintain; it would be more manageable to knock down a building and relocate offices rather than to continually put time and money into keeping it running.

The last offices to leave the space were College of Education offices, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Help and offices from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. The College of Education offices were moved to Mark’s Meadows Elementary School, a town of Amherst school owned by the University. Offices from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning were moved to the new Design Building on N Pleasant St. The CCPH office was temporarily relocated to the second floor of Bartlett Hall.

According to an article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, UMass spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said the Hills House is infested with issues, from possible mold to basement flooding.

“It was really not a facility we wanted to keep students in,” Fitzgibbons stated.

According to Fitzgibbons, construction will be done by a contractor who will be responsible for removing the smaller building little by little using conventional equipment. After the demolition is complete, part of the space will become a parking lot for commuter students, and part will become a recreation area. The Student Government Association has been working with Campus Planning project planner and interim director Douglas Marshall to brainstorm ideas for the space.

“We plan to utilize the space with some sort of recreational facility such as a field that students can use for sports… or just to hang around in,” said Anthony Vitale, Student Government Association student body president.

Students are welcome to contribute if they have any ideas they would like to pitch about what should be done with the rest of the space. The email is for the Facilities and Campus services department at info@facil.umass.edu.

Caeli Chesin can be reached at mchesin@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @caeli_chesin.

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