By Nicole Kirkner
For Unwind magazine
As students returned to the University of Maryland this fall, they were met with the hammering and whirring of workers and bulldozers while discovering new buildings, restaurants and renovations in College Park — and with more construction projected for this year, these changes are just the beginning.
Under the Greater College Park initiative President Wallace Loh launched last year, this university, along with public and private investors, has committed $1 billion for construction spanning more than 30 projects on- and off-campus to reshape the surrounding area, according to the university website.
“The ongoing renovations and new construction will help resolve the university’s deficit for teaching and research space,” associate vice president and chief facilities officer Charles Reuning said.
This year, 58,762 square feet of academic space on campus is currently undergoing renovations and another 857,389 square feet of proposed building space is underconstruction, capital projects executive director of Facilities Management William Olen said.
The Clark School of Engineering, “The Hotel,” the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center, and Cole Field House are a few projects still in progress, while the Student Involvement Suite in Adele H. Stamp Student Union reopened this semester, giving students a convenient study location in the center of campus.
“A lot of students come to Stamp in between classes, so it’s a really great addition,” sophomore mechanical engineering major Mia Weintraub said.
Not only is the university opening more learning spaces, but it is also revamping housing options. Cambridge Hall reopened this fall after a year of renovations, which include the installation of air conditioning, LED lighting, new windows, bathrooms and additional study space, according to the Department of Resident Life.
“We are very interested in adding more housing on campus,” Michael Glowacki, assistant to the director of the Department of Resident Life, said. “We are currently working with campus planners and leaders to identify appropriate sites for it.”
In contrast to last year, 251 North now operates as a regular dining hall with limited hours, according to Dining Services. Students also have new off-campus options with the addition of Kung Fu Tea and Fat Pete’s BBQ, which is projected to open early October.
Although some students see the construction as inconvenient, others approve of the changes.
“I like that the university prides itself on becoming the best it can be and that it’s providing us with the best available classroom settings,” sophomore communications major Taylor Lavery said. “I think it shows that we are constantly innovating, which is something valued in and out of the classroom here at [the University of Maryland].”