BY HOA NGUYEN '18
University of Massachusetts, Amherst has begun construction work for a $62 million business innovation hub, the latest enhancement to the Isenberg School of Management.
The innovation hub, expected to open in the spring of 2019, will benefit faculty, staff and students by addressing their diverse needs. The structure will add 70,000 square feet of various spaces ranging from classrooms, labs and learning commons to advising rooms as well as faculty offices. Among the main targeted areas is the career center, which will have 5,000 square feet of interview suites and offices for career advisors, which will allow more spaces for career advising and recruiting visits.
The construction plan includes further renovation of certain areas from the original 1964 building as well as the most recent addition named for Harold Alfond, business man and founder of the first factory outlet store, in 2000. Once renovated and unified, this space as a whole will facilitate entrepreneur-in-residence programs and provide experiential learning spaces for students.
Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in size of the student body at Isenberg, according to the school dean Mark Fuller. “We serve more students now than ever before,” he said. “Our undergraduate program alone has grown from 2,650 students 10 years ago to 3,500 today.” As one of the top public business schools in the nation, he believes that Isenberg needs to expand its facilities in order to boost its strength and foster the next generation of business leaders.
The $62 million fund for the innovation hub project comes from a combination of gifts and revenues generated from continuing and professional education programs, according to Fuller. Isenberg, in charge of raising $38 million toward the total costs, had already raised $12 million as of July 2016, as reported by MassLive. Fuller said UMass would finance construction expenses through a debt issue and later compensate for these borrowing costs by using the amount raised by the management school.
Fuller highlighted the groundbreaking of the Business Hub as setting off one of the largest construction projects on the UMass campus at the moment, among others like that of the Design Building nearby the Studio Arts Building. “If you walk around campus you can see that there is a tremendous amount of new construction going on,” he said.
The Boston-based Goody Clancy and Bjarke Ingels Group of New York are the two architectural firms who paired up to complete the design work for the innovation hub. “What’s exciting is that UMass architecture is attracting the best talent in the building world,” said Fuller. “We are attracting creative, cutting edge design thinking.”