University of Southern Maine
Portland Commons Residence Hall

University of Southern Maine is adding new features, buildings to its Portland campus

June 21, 2021
A residence hall and student center stem from a master plan that seeks to create a new “campus heart” around the quad.

University of Southern Maine is adding multiple buildings and new features to its campus in Portland, Maine.

Among the projects: a 580-bed residence hall, a career and student center with sustainable features such as solar panels and cross-laminated timber, a grassy quad providing a natural gathering place and a new arts and graduate centers.

Work on the 218,000-square-foot Portland Commons Residence Hall, which will be the first university residence hall on USM’s Portland campus, started this spring and is expected to be completed by June 2023, reports the Sun Journal

Features include large glass panels on the first-floor common areas that will illuminate the sidewalks and create a welcoming environment.

The residence hall is designed to use 50% less energy than a normal building built to code and is on track to be the second-largest university passive house building in the United States, according to the university. Passive house is a strict green building standard that prioritizes energy reductions and high indoor air quality.

The four wings of the hall — two reaching five stories in height and two reaching eight stories in height — will form a parallelogram that encloses a half-acre semi-private residential courtyard.

The hall will be home to undergraduate students in their second, third or fourth year, University of Main System Graduate students, Maine Law students and residential staff. 

Residents will be within walking distance to the dining hall at the new Career & Student Success Center, Glickman Library, and their Portland-based classes.

Funding for the $72.8 million residence hall will come from UMaine System revenue bonds, and revenue generated by the residence hall will fund annual debt service payments.

The $26.6 million Career & Student Success Center will be funded in part with a $19 million state bond approved by voters in 2019 and will be constructed in the same general area as the residence hall in the space formerly occupied by the Woodbury Campus Center.

The projects are part of a master plan that seeks to create a new “campus heart” around the quad and calls for other facilities investments, including a new Graduate Center for Professional Studies and Center for the Arts. 

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