Office of Public Affairs

Campus Construction Update (April 5, 2021)

As evinced by the lively engagement on social media, few things focus the mind quite like seeing a building come down — and learning about what will go up in its place.

A photo of the demolition of Woodbury Commons at USM

Got some spring cleanup to do? So does USM. On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, demolition of the Woodbury Campus Center began in earnest.

Images posted to Facebook and Instagram of the first discernible phase of the Portland Campus Development Project — the demolition of Woodbury Campus Center — were shared nearly 100 times and reached more than 30,000 people last week. And they generated a groundswell of comments (mostly positive) and remembrances (mostly heartfelt and humorous).

Now that Woodbury has been razed to make way for the Portland Commons Residence Hall, you might be wondering what’s next.

First, there’s a little cleanup work to do — about 650 tons’ worth, in total. John Souther, USM’s Executive Director of Facilities Management, says the demolition debris from the Woodbury takedown is bound for different destinations, depending on its composition.

An annotated bird's eye view of the Portland Campus Development Project

The 580-bed Portland Commons Residence Hall (1) will be located on the site of the former Woodbury Campus Center and adjacent to a one-acre quad (2) and the Career & Student Success Center (3) off Bedford Street in Portland. 

General debris will be sorted on-site, with metal bound for recycling at Schnitzer Steel in Portland and Lewiston and unpainted concrete and masonry headed for recycling at the Shaw Brothers M Pit in Westbrook. The rest is headed for Waste Management’s receiving center in Norridgewock for reuse, recycling, or landfill. 

The new Portland Commons Residence Hall

An architect's rendering view of the 218,000-square-foot Portland Commons Residence Hall from Bedford Street on the site of the former Woodbury Campus Center. The design and construction of Portland Commons strive for Passive House-certification, one of the most aggressive green building standards in the world for energy and indoor air quality. The new hall will use less than 50 percent of the energy of a comparable building built to code.

After the remnants of Woodbury are cleared away, then it’s time to start digging deep. Demolition and removal of the concrete slab will be the next order of business, followed by the demo and removal of the concrete foundation and footings. Look for details on that phase of the project in the next Campus Construction Update.

In the meantime, you can follow construction progress up to the moment through several bird's-eye views of the site.

And more about the nearly $100 million Portland Campus Development Project is available online, including building renderings and a nifty fly-through video tour of the Career & Student Success Center.