View Full Version : USM Portland developments

04-15-2008, 05:31 PM
I just noticed today that steel is rising for the Osher Map Library addition to the Glickman Library.


You can watch its progress in these webcams:


The library has an interesting recent history. There's a small exhibit with images by the 4th floor elevators. In a nutshell, it was an industrial bakery before it was converted to its current use. I think there were four years between the opening of the first four and top three floors. It appears that its entrance faces away from the campus because the campus side had another industrial building nearly adjacent to it. The addition will reorient the library toward the campus.


This project, along with the Abromson and Wishcamper buildings, is part of USM's University Commons plan to expand along Bedford Street. But, in my opinion, if the school wants a decent campus, their main surface lot has to go.

On a related note, the Developers Collaborative's rejected Bayside proposal included plans to accommodate the relocation of Maine Law, the Muskie School and the USM school of business in Bayside. One of the DC folks told my group that the Wishcamper Center is only intended to be Muskie's temporary home. All of this is news to me. The relocation of these programs would be a boon to Bayside and shoot some more vitality into the peninsula.

04-15-2008, 07:03 PM
Is the library getting a re-clad with the addition? I think the building is ugly as sin, and even though the lack of colors in the renderings are probably not reflective of reality, I think it would look better with one color and mirror-tinted windows. The greens, reds, beiges, etc just don't do it for me.

I've also found that since being here at USM, it's one of the most strangely-run schools I've ever seen. It's in financial trouble, yet they continue to add buildings without a dire need for them. It's a perfectly acceptable institution, just a little strange at times.

I'd have to agree with you, Bostonian, that surface lot needs to go. Maybe a new, small garage is in store? or surface parking behind the existing garage, Wishcamper Center and and Library. Even with a small surface lot and the garage space available already (there's plenty on the upper levels, even during the busy times of day), there's plenty of parking in the area.

That one surface lot could be turned to greenspace and really knit the already cozy little campus together. The one question would be, "where to shuttles pick up/drop off if the lot's gone," but that could be handled easily. It's pretty sucky to have to walk across the parking lot to get from the student center to classes in Luther-Bonney.

04-15-2008, 07:12 PM
"Is the library getting a re-clad with the addition? I think the building is ugly as sin, and even though the lack of colors in the renderings are probably not reflective of reality, I think it would look better with one color and mirror-tinted windows. The greens, reds, beiges, etc just don't do it for me."

I haven't heard anything, but I also had no clue about plans to move my program to Bayside.

"I've also found that since being here at USM, it's one of the most strangely-run schools I've ever seen. It's in financial trouble, yet they continue to add buildings without a dire need for them. It's a perfectly acceptable institution, just a little strange at times."

It is strange. I remember Umass Boston built its campus center when it was in serious financial trouble. But I've heard that some of the new construction is independent of USM's financial trouble because it is funded by earmarked donations.

04-16-2008, 10:35 AM
I go to usm part time and find it strange also. I went to UMaine (it's in Orono) for two years and after that I find usm to be in disrepair and lacking in student services and things of that nature.

The new addition looks nice.

The parking garage is quite big and I would think it could accomdate pretty much all of the cars that park on the surface lot in addition to the people who already use it. that would leave that lot open for development and a mall (the green kind, not the sears kind) type area.

I think moving some operations into bayside would be a great option. Too bad 295 creates such a physical barrier.

04-16-2008, 12:41 PM
I think converting that surface lot to a green area should be a goal of the university in the near future. I was at UMaine Farmington (UMF) for 2 years (until I just couldn't stand it anymore) and their little green on South Street was originally a faculty parking lot. I know that campus is a little smaller than USM's Portland Campus, but the UMF Campus Green sees a lot of use, especially in the fall and spring. It should serve as a model for USM as both are similarly located (directly in between the student centers and buildings with classes) and see lots of pedestrian traffic.

As far as moving some operations to Bayside goes, it's a smart idea. One thing I detest about the USM campus is how poorly it interacts with its surroundings. granted, it's mostly a residential area, but aside from a few independent bookstores on Forest Ave, it's hard to tell that a college even exists near there if you're not on the campus.

With residences at Bayside and other new developments, the area has the potential to develop into a real college-friendly area and even a destination. A few cafes, burrito places, interesting yet affordable restaurants, unique bookstores and retail places, and other college-oriented venues along Marginal Way would be fantastic. I'm thinking something along the lines of a smaller version of what Providence's Thayer St. is to Brown University and RISD, or Harvard Sq. is to Harvard. Nice, unique, college-oriented development in otherwise residential areas. USM needs something like this and with the redevelopment of this area already happening, the timing is perfect.

As far as 295 goes, it is a terrible barrier. I drive to class, but i pity the pedestrians trying to cross the on/off ramps to get to class. Maybe a Muskie School project could be to research ways to make it easier for pedestrians to cross 295? If the city won't do it, then why not the school? It could be something as simple as a pedestrian bridge, or something else, but something needs to be done... it's not pedestrian friendly down there.

04-16-2008, 06:25 PM
The Deering Ave. bridge is easier for pedestrians than the Forest Ave. underpass,ut it all really should be better. A lot of people, especially students, are crossing 295. The Muskie workshop class does take on projects like this.

"One thing I detest about the USM campus is how poorly it interacts with its surroundings. granted, it's mostly a residential area, but aside from a few independent bookstores on Forest Ave, it's hard to tell that a college even exists near there if you're not on the campus."

I think the side with Payson and the Law building transitions decently into the Oakdale area where a lot of students seem to live--myself included. And USM's white houses are a unique feature to the campus. They make a very easy transition from campus to residential. A Muskie workshop studied them and I hear that it was found that neighbors like them because they are a low-impact buffer between their houses and the campus. But ultimately the school, I've heard, plans to vacate them and possibly make them affordable housing.

The library side of the campus makes a crappy transition into its surroundings. Oakhurst (supposedly) is expanding into the former import store at the corner of Bedford and Forest, so there's a missed opportunity for at least a campus-related store. The health services trailer has got to go. And does anyone know the history of the campus center?

04-16-2008, 07:18 PM
And does anyone know the history of the campus center?

I'd be fascinated to learn this as well. Always wondered what occupied the building before the student center. Also, why isn't there an entrance facing Bedford St.(not that this is a real big deal, but it would be nice)? I'm guessing this is because the library, garage, education center, and wishcamper center were all built after the campus center and as a result, Bedford St. was on the periphery of the campus as opposed to cutting through a significant part of it (as it does now). Buuut that's just a guess. I'd love to hear the real story.

That's a shame about Oakhurst. Although it's great milk (I love the OJ too), That imports store is in a good location that I feel deserves a little more than Oakhurst.

04-20-2008, 07:42 PM
I think it's great that Oakhurst has been in Portland all these years and continues to thrive here, but at the same time I kind of wonder why they don't pack it up and head to a suburban industrial park with more room to grow. Seems a little cramped at their current residence. Same for Hood too.

04-21-2008, 12:48 PM
I don't know the history of this or how much of a guide it is for campus development, but I like it. Notice that the Wishcamper Center already wavers from this. The big surface lot is gone and one leg of the six-way intersection is eaten up by an expanded campus.



04-22-2008, 10:15 AM
Interesting. I wonder how much of this plan is privately funded and how much is funded by the university itself. They've absolutely deviated from the plan with the Wishcamper center, and the footprint of the Library addition looks different as of now as well. It'll be interesting to see how much of this they follow through with. I like the green spaces, but it's too bad that the campus doesn't have the solid existing architecture that many New England colleges have.

*edit. just visited the firm's website and they look fairly reputable and have some impressive projects and clients in their portfolio.

04-30-2008, 05:35 PM

06-03-2008, 04:02 PM
Virtually windowless cinder block wall. Fewer windows than the rendering.


06-03-2008, 09:51 PM
Looks like it could turn out to be equally as ugly as the neighboring Wishcamper Center. I can't imagine why there would be so few windows.

06-15-2008, 09:20 AM
In other news, looks like the Bayside student units aren't selling too well. A few months ago, the "special introductory rate" was almost $700 for a spot in a 4br. I got an email today about their new "special reduced rate."

The email:
YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS OUT ON THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AVAILABLE NOW @ $550.00!!!!!!!!
Call 1-888-832-4229 or email lmattson@realtyresourcesgroup.com now for more details!!!!!!!!!!
Bayside Village Student Housing
132 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101

06-16-2008, 08:53 AM
It looks as though their marketing plan may be over-reliant on exclamation points.

I was thinking to myself, "Do I care if I miss out on this?" But then I counted fifty exclamation points, which convinced me that I definitely do NOT want to miss out on this.

Then I was wondering if I should call or e-mail for more details. Unfortunately, there were only ten exclamation points after that sentence, which I took as a sign that I should NOT call or e-mail. If he had really wanted to hear from me, he would have held down the key for another half-second to write at least twenty exclamation points.

07-27-2008, 01:31 PM
I hate the new "University Commons" less now that I can see the improvements to Bedford Street materializing: a wide tree-lined, brick sidewalk in front of all the new buildings, raised medians at crosswalks and an expanded sidewalk in front of the campus center. I also like the benches and bike racks in front of Wishcamper.


08-05-2008, 02:16 PM
These renderings are new to me:


08-06-2008, 04:51 PM
It looks like the "windows" which I complained are in the rendering but missing so far from the actual building might be outside display cases. If so, I'll be relieved to not end up with a blank wall.

10-10-2008, 03:23 PM

10-10-2008, 05:41 PM
i like it.

fitting for a map library.

the wishcamper building is powered by geothermic energy from the inner earth. neat.

10-10-2008, 06:13 PM
^The glass is nice on this, like you said, fitting for a map library. The thing I dislike about Wishcamper are the cheap materials (the grayish concrete material reminds me of a smaller, different color version of the nasty Northeastern Dorm nearing completion in Boston. The geothermic power is cool, but still not an attractive building.

The big beef is that the ground floors on both of these new buildings completely disregard pedestrian interaction. The new bike lanes and sidewalks are very nice on Bedford St., but the pedestrians on both sides are forced to deal with blank walls, parking garages, at grade parking lots, more blank walls, and grassy knolls. It's disappointing that more attention couldn't be payed to the people who walk through the area daily. Especially when my tuition money goes into constructing it.

10-11-2008, 01:05 AM
You got it. Corey's pic shows that the back might have more of a face than the front.


10-11-2008, 09:43 AM
^Exactly, it's designed to be seen and noticed by people in cars on 295 (likely part of their expensive new marketing scheme), not students and people on campus. What's the point of all the upgrades (bike lanes, sidewalks expansions, new crosswalks, etc) if the long term structures offer very little to engage the pedestrian?

10-12-2008, 08:33 PM
I love the new Wishcamper building. It really looks sharp. Coery has a beautiful picture of the building at night on his site(Thanks Corey.) The new Osher Map Library addition has a large map on the outside of it and I also believe will look great when completed. Great job USM!

10-25-2008, 01:08 AM
If anyone is interested, I can share my experience inside the new Wishcamper Center. At the very least it is wonderful to have the Muskie School under one roof. Previously, faculty offices were scattered between the Law Building and one of the campus white houses. The majority of classes were held in the Law building, but not all of them. Muskie's lounge and computer lab in the Law building were ok, but windowless. Many of the classrooms in that building are windowless too.

The new building contains all the faculty offices and classrooms--although I do have a compressed video class in Payson. Every room has windows. My contact with my professors and classmates has increased. One of my favorite changes is the new Muskie library that until now had been in pieces: a professor's impressively vast, private urban planning library in his office, another bookcase in a conference room, and whatever else there was. Now it is all together and I love it.

Muskie shares the building with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The two programs seem to be very compatible because OLLI classes, I think, are all morning and early afternoon, and ours are late afternoon and evening. If it isn't to early to judge, this seems to be good planning.

Really my only petty complaint is that the new building is on the opposite corner of the campus from the Law building, and I live just a few blocks from the Law building. So my walk to class has doubled. No sweat though, I enjoy walking through the campus.

I encourage you USM folks, or even anyone else, to explore the building. It seems to be a pleasant place. I don't know what is becoming of the entire white house Muskie has vacated, or the space, mostly in the law building, that is now free for other uses. USM seriously needs to shuffle this free space around, put health services inside a permanent building, and remove the atrocious health trailer.

10-26-2008, 06:52 PM
One can be a municipal or regional planner in local, county or state government or a consultant in a private firm that is contracted by government. I see some recent grads working in conservation too. At least one I know has become a developer. No one seems to be getting into the field for the money, but I think a private consultant would make more than a town planner, and a developer might make more than both.

04-06-2009, 06:01 AM
Set to open in September




I do with they would pave most of this over with grass, or at least make it something other than parking, the parking garage is plenty big to accomodatge everyone.