North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and the city of Boston opened a new chapter in their long part­ner­ship on Friday morning when city offi­cials joined uni­ver­sity leaders to break ground on Northeastern’s state-​​of-​​the-​​art Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Sci­ence and Engi­neering Com­plex on Columbus Avenue.

In his remarks, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun told the hun­dreds of people in atten­dance, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston City Coun­cilor Tito Jackson, and state Rep. Jef­frey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain, that the new com­plex would ben­efit the North­eastern com­mu­nity as well as the entire city.

You can look at this com­plex from dif­ferent per­spec­tives,” Aoun said. “Yes, it is going to serve the stu­dents. Yes, it is going to serve our fac­ulty. And yes, it is going to serve the com­mu­nity. But more impor­tantly it is going to bring every con­stituency together.”

Hundreds of members of the Northeastern University and surrounding communities gathered at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC), on Columbus Avenue. Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun joined by new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in the ceremony. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Hun­dreds of mem­bers of the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and sur­rounding com­mu­ni­ties gath­ered at the cer­e­mo­nial ground­breaking for the Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Sci­ence and Engi­neering Com­plex on Columbus Avenue. North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun was joined by new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in the cer­e­mony. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

The 220,000-square-foot research and edu­ca­tional space is part of Northeastern’s ongoing effort to expand its capacity to engage in path-​​breaking research across dis­ci­plines. Sched­uled to open in 2016, it will include wet and dry lab facil­i­ties, edu­ca­tional lab­o­ra­to­ries, class­room space, and offices for fac­ulty and grad­uate students.

A sci­ence com­plex of this scale has the chance to be a shining example of the best Boston has to offer,” Walsh said in his remarks. “This facility will attract some of the world’s best minds in the most cut­ting edge fields of research. The work they will do will change the world in ways we can’t even imagine yet.”

The ISEC will be the first pri­vate research devel­op­ment in Rox­bury and is expected to create more than 600 jobs during the con­struc­tion phase and an addi­tional 700 jobs after the com­plex opens.

The future of our uni­ver­sity is inti­mately linked to the well being of the Rox­bury com­mu­nity and Boston as a whole,” Aoun said. “You need us. But more impor­tantly, we need you.”

The six-​​story, LEED-​​certified facility will fea­ture cutting-​​edge sci­en­tific equip­ment and lab space, both of which will be shared by researchers from Northeastern’s Col­lege of Sci­ence, Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, Col­lege of Engi­neering, and Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence.

The most sig­nif­i­cant word in the name of this building is inter­dis­ci­pli­nary,” Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, said in his remarks. “Our research focuses on finding solu­tions to the global chal­lenges in the areas of health, sus­tain­ability, and secu­rity. Solu­tions to these chal­lenges require the col­lab­o­ra­tion of many minds working together in many fields.”

Miles Graham, a seventh-​​grader at the Match Charter Public School in Boston, said the new facility would help Boston youth realize their dreams of becoming suc­cessful sci­en­tists and engi­neers. “This new building rep­re­sents a bigger and better oppor­tu­nity for Boston’s youth,” he explained. “This is how dreams become real.”

Michael Karolewski, comp­troller for the North­eastern Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion, noted that the new com­plex would offer stu­dents more research oppor­tu­ni­ties than ever before.

It’s hard to believe, but there will be even more oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents like me to learn in their own dis­ci­plines and have the poten­tial to com­mu­ni­cate across these other dis­ci­plines,” said Karolewski, SSH’16.

Walsh was par­tic­u­larly excited about the project’s plan 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 the Rox­bury and Fenway neighborhoods.

Building bridges is what uni­ver­si­ties should be all about,” Walsh said.

Photo courtesy of Payette.

Photo cour­tesy of Payette.

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 about $225 million.

The new sci­ence com­plex is a key part of Northeastern’s Insti­tu­tional Master Plan to strengthen ties with the local com­mu­nity and the city. Uni­ver­sity offi­cials devel­oped the plan over the past two years in col­lab­o­ra­tion with fac­ulty, stu­dents, staff, city plan­ners, and campus neigh­bors. The Boston Rede­vel­op­ment Authority approved the plan on Nov. 14, 2013.

North­eastern has increased its annual research funding by more than 100 per­cent since 2006, and it has received more than $98 mil­lion in external research funding in 2013. The uni­ver­sity is also diver­si­fying its research funding by delib­er­ately increasing sup­port from phil­an­thropic and cor­po­rate sources, not just gov­ern­ment grants.