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Digging into campus construction: what to expect

The class of 2018 will be the first to graduate on campus. While previous commencement ceremonies were held at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, this spring the graduating class will walk here at UMBC, in a brand new Event Center.

One of two major construction projects in progress on campus, the Event Center is located next to the UMBC Stadium and is scheduled to open in Spring 2018.

According to UMBC Facilities Management, the $85 million project will “host all UMBC NCAA athletic games for men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, as well as provide a venue for a variety of events, such as commencement, concerts, featured speakers, and banquets.”

Likewise, the other major construction project on campus, the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB), will provide an enriched learning environment for students. The ILSB is located next to the Commons and will replace the Academic Services building.

The project website states that the ILSB will “seamlessly connect teaching and research activities to enhance and further stimulate collaborative approaches to advancing the State’s biotechnology industry and increasing the number of STEM graduates.” Construction on the project began on May 1, 2017 and is scheduled to be completed during Fall 2019.

As stated by Facilities Management, the ILSB will feature several research labs and active learning classrooms “encouraging the retention and recruitment of top quality students and faculty.”

The impact of the construction of the ILSB has been significant to student life due to its central location on campus. Facilities Management notes that during the span of the 24 month period of construction, the campus will go through several changes, and traffic and parking will also be affected.

The ILSB project includes updates to the Quad and Commons Circle Plaza. The project website states that both locations will be outfitted with more pedestrian walkways and green space plantings. The Commons Circle drop-off area has been converted into a one-way turnaround and a new drop-off circle has been constructed near the Physics building.

Facilities Management states that commuter (A) parking spaces on one side of Commons Drive have been removed to make way for construction vehicles. The new Commons Circle also required a reduction in the number of available faculty/staff (E) parking spaces in Lot 2 by the Physics building. Lot 28 near the Event Center is closed and vehicles are no longer able to access the Stadium Complex.

During the first six months of the ILSB project, access to the Quad will be restricted and the stairs between the Math/Psychology and Biology buildings will be closed.

The Quad, a signature feature of the UMBC campus, has been the site of several events in the past such as those for Welcome Week, Involvement Fest and Quadmania. This year, due to the closure, the Welcome Week events and Involvement Fest are taking place on Erickson Field.

According to Hannah Haley, a freshman biology major who commutes to campus, the construction has “interfered with the available routes to travel around campus, but it’s good to see that work is constantly being done to upgrade and renovate around campus.”