In response to complaints from residents in the Walker Avenue and West Hill apartments, UMBC will install an escalator to transport students from the Albin O. Kuhn Library to the intersection of Walker Avenue and Hilltop Circle. The new escalator will be enclosed in a window-lined chamber with full climate control, and will feature free hot-and-cold beverage service at each terminus. The entire structure, to be built from native materials at a cost of $48 million, will open on April 1, 2015.
“It totally sucks that it won’t be open in time for next winter,“ complained one Walker Avenue Apartments resident who preferred to remain anonymous. “That walk is really far,” said the resident, rubbing his calves for emphasis.
Sherman Peabody, UMBC Director of Pedestrian Amenities, explained that the Walker Avenue escalator was not viewed as a priority before late 2013: “We had been focused on the Performing Arts and Humanities Building, a new sports arena, and projects related to parking and traffic flow,” he explained. But in November, a West Hill resident created a MyUMBC Discussion post in which she said, “Why am I having to haul my books & crap all the way up the hill EVERYDAY ON FOOT???!? #HonorsUniversity.” The post received more than 300 “paws.” “That really got our attention,” explained Peabody. “Especially the use of ‘all-caps.’ I’ve been told that when young people do that, it’s a sign of very intense feeling. Plus somebody left a comment that was simply an animated image of a person sweating profusely while walking, and then exploding. Of course we started drawing up escalator plans immediately.”
Campus officials are considering several names matching the styles of other UMBC place names, including ‘Walker Avenue Moving Staircase Unit’ and ‘Escalator 1.’ An opening ceremony is planned, and there will be free t-shirts and mocktails.
Co-Create UMBC is a blog for and about UMBC, written by David Hoffman and Craig Berger from the Office of Student Life. Join the Co-Create UMBC group on MyUMBC. Like Co-Create UMBC on Facebook. And follow David and Craig on Twitter.