Historical Patterns of Campus Growth

Conceived in 1962, the campus was built on the site of the former Spring Grove State Hospital farm.  Little of the original farm structures or landscape remains, except a lone silo on UMBC Boulevard at the southern approach to the campus. 

The original master plan concentrated the majority of the academic core in a compact grid of nine blocks on one of the hilliest sections of the site.  The compact nature of the original development and the strong axial relationship focused on the Library building allowed for utility development in a grid of tunnels below the buildings.  This practical and systemic approach to planning predominated over the desire for consistency of architectural language, the creation of formal open spaces or the richness of landscape elements that define other older universities. 

The other defining element of the campus is the ring road, Hilltop Circle, which surrounds the academic core.  This road was planned to facilitate access to parking and services, while relieving the original academic core of vehicular congestion. This feature has created a pedestrian-oriented core, mostly free of pedestrian and vehicular conflicts, but has become a barrier to expansion of the campus. 

The largest change from the original 1960’s era master plan can be seen to the north and east of the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery.  A series of dense residential communities have been developed in an area once reserved for surface parking lots.  Since 1970 the University has embarked on developing a large residential community, partially off-setting the need for parking lots and high capacity roadways, as the campus expands.  Currently, there are 28 residential buildings providing nearly 3,800 beds for resident students and staff.  The following figure shows the campus as of 2009. 

    Click here to enlarge the Existing Campus Plan


Facilities Changes to the Campus Since 2003

Since the 2003 Facilities Master Plan, UMBC has experienced continued growth and development on campus.  The current period has seen the completion of both the ITE Building and the Public Policy Building, the construction of the Walker Avenue Apartments, and the renovation of and addition to the UMBC Stadium complex.  Since 2003, extensive renovations to the Chemistry Building (built in 1971) were completed, as well as renovations or systemic replacements to the mechanical systems of several buildings, including the dining hall and numerous residential communities.  Today, the campus consists of 3,613,000 square feet of buildings, of which 2,146,782 are assignable   .Click here for a table of The Size and Age of Existing Buildings on Campus.

The last six years has also seen an expansion of bwtech@UMBC, the University’s integrated research park, incubator and accelerator.  The five new, high-tech buildings of bwtech@UMBC, comprising 515,000 square feet of office and lab space, are home to 55 companies, which generate over $200 million annually in total business sales.  Situated at the main approach to the University from the interstates and the Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport, bwtech@UMBC North serves as a handsome forecourt to the campus entry, reinforcing the strong connection between academics, research and business that is vitally important to the University.


Click here to enlarge

Condition of Buildings

Of the original campus buildings, those in most need of a major renewal include the Fine Arts Building (1973), University Center (1982), Sondheim Hall (1973), the Math/Psychology Building (1969), the Academic IV Building (1980), Lecture Hall 1 (1967), the Administration Building (1973), the original wings of the Library (1968), and a wing of the Biological Sciences Building (commonly referred to as Martin Schwartz Hall, 1983). 

The campus’ buildings of this era are at the end of their useful lives and universally suffer from outdated building systems, functionally and technologically deficient classroom space, and deteriorating building envelopes.  As such, each building requires: replacement and upgrade of mechanical, electrical, and life safety systems; restoration of building envelope; and modest architectural modifications to correct barriers to accessibility, improve building functionality, and enhance public spaces.  In addition, the Fine Arts Building and the University Center require substantial interior modifications to accommodate changing uses and programs. 

With the planned completion of the first wing of the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building in 2012 and the second wing in 2014, many programs within the Fine Arts Building and the Theatre / Academic Services Building will be transferred to the new building.  This will provide the unheralded opportunity to begin a full renovation of the Fine Arts Building, repurposing it to address critical space shortages in academic and research programs. 

The University Center, built as a student center, saw many of its student services transferred to The Commons, upon its completion in 2002.  Piecemeal renovation over the last five years has led to a patchwork of building mechanical and electrical solutions to accommodate new uses.  A complete and comprehensive building renovation is required to restore the building to full functionality and complete its transformation into a multi-modal learning center contributing directly to student academic success. Click here for a table of the Building Conditions Overview.