University Apartments to be demolished next month

By Michelle Williams

The condemned University Apartments complex, located off Butterfield Terrace, is scheduled to be demolished next month.

Built in 1949, the University Apartments were designed for housing, specifically family housing. In 1994, the 37,000-square-foot building was deemed unsuitable for living, though it was still used for office space by the Minutemen Marching Band until this school year.

Along with the University Apartments, this project will tear down a 4,400-square-foot garage and 1,000 feet of steam line that had connected the buildings to the campus distribution center. The garage had previously been used by housing and residence life operations.

North Pleasant Street sidewalks from Thatcher Road to Butterfield Terrace are expected to be construction zones while the demolition occurs. During the project, sidewalks will be made available at different locations. Demolition is expected to be completed in January.
In a university press release, Jim Cahill, the director of facilities and campus planning at the University of Massachusetts said the project will create parking space for faculty and staff.

This project is slated to cost $1.2 million. The cost entails the recycling of possible building materials and the safe disposal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead.

A 90-space parking lot is expected to be completed by May 2010. “This is really going to help out the parking situation on the east side of campus, where we’re being squeezed,” Cahill said.

For the present, the housing and residence life operations have been relocated to the Physical Plant building. This allows them to share resources and work space with Physical Plant operations.

The Minuteman Marching Band has been temporarily relocated to the Arnold House until the completion of the Minuteman Marching Band Building, projected to be finished by March 2011. The Minuteman Marching Band has not had a permanent home since 1997, when they had used the Old Chapel, which has also been deemed unsafe, according to director of Marching and Athletic Bands George Parks.

]The Marching Band building project is expected to be a $5.7 million project, funded both by donations and university funds, and will finally give the 300-member band a permanent home.

The building will be attached to Grinnell Arena by a walkway and is located next to Dickinson Hall. The facility will provide an indoor practice and performance space that will be able to fit the entire band, as well storage for uniforms and instruments, small practice rooms for instrument sections and offices for band staff. The project will also fund renovations for Grinnell, a building used for storing equipment and meeting space before game days.

Parks said the apartments were simply not a good space for the band.

“It was not a very suitable space for the band,” said Parks. “Though the university tried to make the building more comfortable by painting the walls and other small renovations, the space just wasn’t big enough.”

Currently the Minuteman Marching Band staff is using the Arnold House, a building once used by the School of Nursing. This building also suffers from similar space constraints to the University Apartments.

Without an indoor location large enough for the 300-person band, the weather can take a toll.

Matt Hill, a freshman from Needham, Mass, said, “it will be nice to practice inside somewhere when it’s really cold out.”

“Last week, it was freezing out, yet we had to do our drill outside because we currently don’t have a large enough space to contain the entire band indoors,” said Hill. “It was pretty miserable.”

The 15,000-square-foot design was created by Kuhn Riddle Architects of Amherst. Working with the needs of the band, Parks expects the space to fulfill the needs of the group for years to come. Parks said “They’ve been very, very responsive to all of our needs, trying to create a building that will work extremely well with us. We’re thrilled with the designs.”
The design also serves as an example of the university’s plans to become more energy-efficient. The layouts include need based energy recovery ventilation, which recycles energy used for heating and cooling into the outside air. Recycled materials plan to be used in construction and it is expected that approximately 75 percent of waste from construction will be recycled. University officials plan to register the new building with the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The Minuteman Marching Band is one of only 27 collegiate marching bands to have received the Sudler trophy, an annual award given by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

Michelle Williams can be reached at [email protected]