DARTMOUTH — UMass Dartmouth broke ground Friday on a $134 million housing and dining complex designed to transform the student living and learning experience on campus. The project will create 150 construction jobs and 400,000 people hours of work. The facilities will open when students arrive for classes in fall 2020.

The complex, which is being built in Parking Lot 7 near the university’s Campus Center and College of Visual and Performing Arts, will include:

-- A $108 million, 1,210-bed, 267,500 square foot, housing complex in two buildings. Besides the actual living areas, the facilities will include general academic classrooms, multimedia and study lounges, demonstration kitchens, and recreation spaces. The buildings will also offer technology-equipped maker spaces where students will be able to work on group projects, soundproof music practice spaces, and two computer learning commons. Two faculty-in-residence apartments will foster mentoring and advising. The new housing will replace four residence halls that opened in 1976.

-- A $26 million, 38,000 square foot, student dining commons with a capacity of 800. The facility will be designed with a marketplace concept that will expand food options in response to students’ needs and expectations. The design will include a large flat top grill where students will be able to see their meals being prepared. The university’s current main dining hall was built in 1977 for a residential student population of 1,600 but now serves more than 3,000 students daily.

While the housing/dining complex is being built, work will also begin on a $54 million renovation of the Science and Engineering Building, supported by $25 million in state funds.

“Our students and our region will benefit from these investments in quality living and learning facilities that will prepare them to succeed in a rapidly changing, highly competitive global economy,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said. “I am thankful for the support that we are receiving from the Baker-Polito Administration, President Meehan and our Board of Trustees, and our SouthCoast Legislative delegation, as we pursue our aspirations in through this innovative and collaborative strategy. When combined with our first-rate faculty, these facilities will guarantee our students the private college educational experience and public university value they so deserve.”

“We know from studies and our own extensive experience that providing high-quality living-learning environments for students increases graduation rates, retention rates, and academic performance,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “This project represents an investment in student success and student opportunity at UMass Dartmouth, which by extension will benefit the Southcoast and the entire Commonwealth.”

“For students like me – who will graduate before these buildings open – this project means learning that takes place outside the classroom matters,” said Shari Flanders, a student resident assistant who earned her undergraduate business degree in May and is now pursuing an MBA. “It means student success matters. It means the whole student matters. It means getting first-year students off to a good start matters.”

UMass Dartmouth Public Affairs