New Construction

University of Southern Maine Opens First On-Campus Dorm

The University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine, recently celebrated the opening of its first on-campus residence hall and a new parking garage, according to local news. Portland Commons covers 210,000 square feet and has a capacity for 580 beds across 385 units. The parking garage features 500 spaces, as well as 58 Level Two electric-vehicle-charging stations. The university held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new residence hall on Tuesday, August 17, according to the Portland Press Herald.

“This 580-bed residential hall will transform the campus, creating a hub for students from USM, Maine Law, and SMCC, solidifying Portland’s reputation as a college town and USM as the hub,” said USM President Jacqueline Edmondson.

The dorm’s exterior is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass, according to Spectrum Local News, and is projected to use less than 50% of the energy of a standard building. The Portland Press Herald reports that the facility includes four wings, two that stand five stories and two that stand eight stories. The dorm cost $74 million and the parking garage $23.5 million, both funded through revenue bonds that the University of Maine System approved in 2020.

“Portland Commons is a transformative addition to the student experience at USM,” said Dominic Barraclough, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. “Undergraduates will now have a living experience in Portland to aspire toward during their first two years, and graduate students will have a place to live and find community and support while they complete their degrees.”

According to university officials, the goal of the project was to alleviate living expenses for small-town students and serve as a “campus heart” for residential and commuting students.

“By building our residence hall to earn Passive House certification and by making alternative transportation front and center in our new garage, we’ve decided we aren’t taking baby steps anymore,” said USM Director of Sustainability Aaron Witham. “We are now taking big strides toward our commitment to be a carbon-neutral university by 2040.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].