Although people, not bricks and mortar, are the heart of any top-tier university, it certainly helps when the bricks and mortar look like this.

During the annual State of the University event on Oct. 22, university provost Stephen W. Director unveiled plans for the university’s new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, slated to begin construction in 2014.

(Click here and here for a virtual tour of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building.)

“This building is yet another statement of the university’s commitment to hiring and supporting exceptional faculty researchers,” says Director. “It’s a space that will promote the highest order of interdisciplinary work among scientists and engineers.”

A view of the building’s six-story atrium and spiral staircase.
Director stressed that the building is designed to promote collaboration in science, engineering, and computer science through the use of flexible lab space, new classrooms, ample common areas, and a 250-seat auditorium. The signature multistory interior atrium and a six-floor spiral staircase will foster a sense of openness and aid communication.

The 225,000-square-foot steel and glass structure was designed by the award-winning architectural firm Payette and Associates and will have enough environmentally friendly features to meet LEED certification requirements, considered the gold standard in green building.

It will be sited on what is now the Columbus Avenue open parking lot and will include landscaping designed to connect the two halves of campus divided by railroad tracks. The most prominent feature of this landscaping will be the Arc, a boomerang-shaped pathway that crosses the tracks in two places and is intended to emulate Manhattan’s beloved High Line public park.

The project is the first scheduled to be built as part of Northeastern’s Institutional Master Plan, approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Nov. 14.

From every angle, the building will be transformative. “This building is the canvas upon which our faculty colleagues, students, and staff will produce the next generation of breakthroughs,” says 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.”