Northeastern to build state-​​of-​​the-​​art science and engineering complex

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity has announced plans to build a state-​​of-​​the-​​art inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sci­ence and engi­neering research facility in Rox­bury on Columbus Avenue. Sched­uled for com­ple­tion in fall 2016, the new com­plex will pro­vide 220,000 square feet of research and edu­ca­tional space and is part of the university’s ongoing effort to expand its capacity to engage in path-​​breaking research across disciplines.

Courtesy of Payette.

This new com­plex is the canvas upon which our fac­ulty col­leagues, stu­dents, and staff will pro­duce the next gen­er­a­tion of break­throughs,” said North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun. “It will be a hub of schol­ar­ship and teaching and will sig­nif­i­cantly advance our mis­sion as a use-​​inspired research uni­ver­sity. We are also proud to create the first pri­vate research devel­op­ment in Roxbury.”

The inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sci­ence and engi­neering com­plex will be located next to the expanding Rug­gles MBTA sta­tion and house wet and dry lab facil­i­ties, edu­ca­tional lab­o­ra­to­ries, class­room space, and offices for fac­ulty and grad­uate stu­dents. It will fea­ture cutting-​​edge sci­en­tific equip­ment to be shared by researchers from Northeastern’s Col­lege of Sci­enceBouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­encesCol­lege of Engi­neering, and Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence. The project will also include a 280-​​seat audi­to­rium and a large atrium with a spiral staircase.

The six-​​story facility will be designed with open shared lab­o­ra­tory space, and numerous areas that pro­mote informal serendip­i­tous dis­cus­sions will foster inter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion. Through the lib­eral use of glass walls, fac­ulty, stu­dents, and vis­i­tors will be able to view a broad range of research activ­i­ties that are underway.

Solu­tions to many of the world’s most pressing chal­lenges are cre­ated at the inter­sec­tion of dis­ci­plines,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs. “Our inte­grated sci­ence and engi­neering com­plex will allow North­eastern researchers to address chal­lenges across many fields, with par­tic­ular emphasis on our sig­na­ture research themes of health, secu­rity, and sustainability.”

Con­struc­tion of the new facility will pro­vide much-​​needed space for Northeastern’s ongoing faculty-​​hiring ini­tia­tive. Over the past seven years, the uni­ver­sity has recruited 387 new tenured and tenure-​​track fac­ulty mem­bers, many of whom have joint appoint­ments across aca­d­emic dis­ci­plines. The uni­ver­sity is con­tin­uing to recruit tenured and tenure-​​track fac­ulty at a record pace.

North­eastern has increased its annual research funding by more than 100 per­cent since 2006, and in the 2011–2012 aca­d­emic year the uni­ver­sity received more than $100 mil­lion in external research funding. The uni­ver­sity is also diver­si­fying its research funding by delib­er­ately increasing sup­port from phil­an­thropic and cor­po­rate sources, not just gov­ern­ment grants.

The new LEED-​​certified facility will be con­structed on a 3.5-acre parcel owned by North­eastern and cur­rently used as sur­face parking. The site’s devel­op­ment pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity to strengthen the Columbus Avenue cor­ridor, improve pedes­trian con­nec­tions, and create new open space and streetscape ameni­ties to be shared with the sur­rounding com­mu­nity. The project rep­re­sents an invest­ment by the uni­ver­sity of approx­i­mately $225 million.

Designed by the archi­tec­tural firm Payette, the project also includes plans to con­struct a unique pedes­trian bridge over the MBTA Orange Line, com­muter rail, and Amtrak tracks. The bridge—similar to New York City’s “Highline”—will con­nect two dis­tinct sec­tions of Northeastern’s campus and bol­ster the university’s strong ties to its sur­rounding communities.

ISEB night600The new sci­ence com­plex is a key part of Northeastern’s Insti­tu­tional Master Plan, which uni­ver­sity offi­cials devel­oped over the past two years in col­lab­o­ra­tion with fac­ulty, stu­dents, staff, city plan­ners, and campus neigh­bors. The plan was approved by the Boston Rede­vel­op­ment Authority on Nov. 14.

At the outset of this process we iden­ti­fied mutu­ality, respect, and trans­parency as our guiding prin­ci­ples,” said Ralph Martin II, senior vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral counsel, who spear­headed the Insti­tu­tional Master Plan Process. “After nearly two years of dis­cus­sion, debate, and nego­ti­a­tions with elected offi­cials and neigh­bors, and guided by the rede­vel­op­ment authority, we believe we have a plan that serves those prin­ci­ples and will have a trans­for­ma­tional effect on both North­eastern and our neighborhoods.”