Construction to close walkway on north side of campus pond

By Sarah Hardy

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Construction for the New Academic Classroom Building will begin Monday, March 19, closing the walkway on the north side of the University of Massachusetts campus pond next to the Campus Center and Hasbrouck Laboratory for the duration of the project.

Sarah Doremus/Collegian

The Hasbrouck bus stop will be closed as well.

The building – which will house the journalism, communications, linguistics and film studies departments – is expected to be completed during spring 2014, according to project manager Jeff Quackenbush.

“We’re not closing [the walkway] for fun. We know it’s a pain,” said Quackenbush. “It’s a large inconvenience, there’s no doubt about that.”

An orange sign on the walkway announced the impending closure to students as well as an email sent out to the campus community by Communications Manager of Facilities Planning Jim Hunt.

However, some students still did not know about the closing.

“I didn’t know anything about it which shows a lack of communication with the student body,” said senior Lauren Shewey.

She, like many students, is frustrated by the closing.

“It’s just a hassle,” she said. “It’s a major inconvenience for a lot of people … and it proposes an issue for getting around campus.

During construction, pedestrians walking east to west on campus will have to travel around the south end of the pond near the Fine Arts Center, through Hasbrouck Laboratory or around the Campus Center. There will be a temporary asphalt walkway on the south side of the Campus Center.

“There are plenty of ways around the pathway,” said senior communications major Paul Dellanno, who added that he didn’t think it was a “big deal.”

Alternative routes may add extra travel time, but will be “clear and reliable,” according to a University press release concerning the construction. Facilities Planning has provided maps of alternate pedestrian routes on its website.

For the duration of the project, the construction area will be enclosed in a fence.

Quackenbush said that regardless of the construction of the New Academic Classroom Building, the pedestrian walkway would have been closed in the future for maintenance of utilities that run underneath the walkway.

Plans for the new building were developed over the past two years, according to the Facilities Planning website about the construction. The $85 million building will provide 2,000 seats in state-of-the-art classrooms, according to an email sent to students.

“It’s going to be a very excellent thing for the University,” said Quackenbush. “We have been woefully lacking in state-of-the-art academic space. The fact that we’re going to build this finally, a premiere building, it’s going to do wonders for us.”

The new building is part of Chancellor Robert Holub’s plan for academic and research transformation, according to Facilities Planning. It will include digitally enabled spaces and include “studios and specialized rooms for TV broadcasting and production, editing rooms, film screening rooms, computer classrooms, speech perception and auditory phonetics labs,” according to Facilities Planning.

Senior major Jenna Cripps disagreed with the construction of the New Academic Classroom Building.

“I think that [UMass] should be restoring old buildings. I think that [UMass] is wasting money building new ones – not only on construction but the cost of paying construction workers and policemen [to guard the site],” said Cripps.

Cripps believed that the money used for the construction of the building would be better spent hiring new professors.

Sarah Hardy can be reached at [email protected] Landeck can be reached at [email protected]