Boston-area colleges and universities are back in session and thousands of students have returned to their campus to find exciting new buildings and renovations completed, projects under construction, or plans in motion to transform their school.
Colleges and universities have been busy breathing new life into their buildings, campuses and surrounding neighborhoods to not only attract interested students, but also to meet the city’s demand for more on-campus student housing and to keep up with their competitors. Here are some projects that are making the grade on both sides of the Charles River:
A new residence hall is under construction at Boston College. 2150 Commonwealth Avenue is scheduled to open in fall 2016. It will house 490 students in 4- and 6-person apartments and will incorporate sustainability measures. Students seem excited for the sustainable residence hall, which will also serve as the new home of BC’s Health Services Center.
In May, Boston University broke ground on its Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering. The University excavated the site and started to lay the foundation for the building over the summer. When complete in spring 2017, the nine-story, LEED-certified building will serve as an interdisciplinary research facility.
Boston University Law School students entered a brand new School of Law tower this fall. Completely upgraded from its former brutalist structure, the 18-story tower houses modern administrative and faculty offices and moot courtrooms. The new tower connects to the Redstone Building next door. Together, the two buildings form “one state-of-the-art complex” for the law school’s students and faculty.
At Emerson, the college started the demolition phase of construction on its 1-3 Boylston Place residence hall this summer, with the work expected to continue until mid-October. The new facility will span 18 stories and will provide 380 beds and student social and common space alongside the Boston Common. The school is also determining what it will do with the Colonial Theater, which will close for at least a year while Emerson develops its plan for the 115 year-old performance space.
In 2012, the city of Boston approved a 17-story residence hall in Emmanuel’s 10-year master plan. The school is now working with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to revise its plan and build an 18- to 19-story residence hall on Brookline Avenue. The new building will provide a net 430 on-campus beds located next to Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center’s East Campus in the Longwood Medical Area. If everything goes according to plan, the school will tear down the existing four-story dormitory, Julie Hall, in May and open the new high-rise in 2018.
Over the summer, Harvard presented plans for its new Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center to the Cambridge Planning Board. The new Campus Center would be located at what is currently Forbes Plaza at the Holyoke Center. Harvard’s plan includes renovating the building’s first, second and tenth floors, constructing new common space areas and renovating the building’s front facade, as well as its indoor and outdoor dining areas. The crux of the opposition from residents is the plan for a glass pavilion, which they say encroaches on public space. The project is currently delayed following hearings before the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeal with Harvard needing to revamp its plans to address the community’s concerns before any construction begins.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
After several years of planning, MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative heated up this summer with the filing of its permit applications to the Cambridge Planning Board at the end of July. In early September, the Planning Board voted to advance the project to the next stage. The Kendall Square Initiative seeks to create a “vibrant mixed-used district” by transforming six surface parking lots into six new buildings (three for research and development, two for housing and one for office) with retail space in each. The project will add 270 net new housing units for graduate students, 240 market-rate units and 50 affordable units. The plan also calls for a significant amount of open space.
On Columbus Avenue, Northeastern University is building its new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex. The University broke ground on the new complex in February 2014. When complete, the complex will feature new lab and classroom space, as well as offices for faculty and graduate students. Students and faculty from the College of Science, the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, the College of Engineering and the College of Computer and Information Science will collaborate on research when the six-story, LEED-certified complex opens in 2016. Students walking by can really see the progress of the new addition to campus, which will also feature a café and pedestrian bridge that connects the two sides of Northeastern’s campus.
Northeastern now offers an all-time high of 9,100 beds on-campus with the opening of its newest residence hall, East Village, in January 2015. The newest residence hall includes 11 floors of residential suites, four floors of apartment-style spaces for upperclassmen, an event space on the 17th floor and five classrooms.
Students will also be excited to see this summer’s renovation of the Curry Student Center. An indoor quad features a sleek design with new black, red and grey furniture and a state-of-the-art stair installation.
Suffolk University made the news this summer for the sale of its Archer and Donahue buildings in Beacon Hill. Suffolk will remain a tenant of both buildings and the University is planning to use the proceeds from the sale to fund further campus enhancements and investments in classroom technology at Sargent Hall, 73 Tremont Street and the Sawyer building. Suffolk also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new academic building at 20 Somerset in downtown Boston last week.
Another Science and Engineering Complex (the SEC) is currently under construction at Tufts University’s Medford/Somerville campus. Like those at Northeastern and BU, it’s also designed for interdisciplinary research and will house new laboratory space. The 79,000 square-foot complex is slated for completion by the start of the 2017 school year.
We’re excited to see these projects change the learning experience for students in Greater Boston’s institutions of higher education. Are you excited by an alma mater’s proposal or to see these buildings take shape in your neighborhood? Let us know on Twitter!