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Northeastern tops off ISEC

Northeastern University on Thursday held a topping-off ceremony for its Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, marking a significant milestone in the construction of the state-of-the-art facility that will foster groundbreaking research and strengthen community ties.

Northeastern broke ground on the ISEC in February 2014, and the project is scheduled for completion in fall 2016. The topping-off ceremony is a tradition that marks the placement of the final steel beam in a building’s structure and honors the people whose hard work has led to reaching this peak.

At the ceremony, Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh noted that the project will benefit the community by creating jobs as well as research and learning opportunities.

“If the community is vibrant, we are vibrant,” Aoun said at the ceremony, which was held atop the Columbus Avenue garage. Those in attendance included members of the Northeastern community and construction workers, as well as city, business, and community leaders.

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh sign the final beam to be placed at the height of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex at a topping-off ceremony for the state-of-the-art facility on Thursday. Photo by Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh sign the final beam to be placed at the height of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex at a topping-off ceremony for the state-of-the-art facility on Thursday. Photo by Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University

The ISEC will provide 230,000 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. The project is also the first private research development in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood and is expected to create 700 jobs after the complex opens, in addition to the 600 jobs created during construction.

The complex is a key part of Northeastern’s Institutional Master Plan to strengthen ties with the local community and the city. In his remarks, Walsh said that the project will serve as an important bridge between academia and the Roxbury and South End neighborhoods, noting for example that school-aged youth will only be a short walk away from a cutting-edge facility featuring research in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math.

Walsh also credited Northeastern for its continued investment in the Columbus Avenue corridor. Last year, the university helped secure a $20 million federal grant to perform significant improvements to the nearby Ruggles MBTA station, and earlier this week Northeastern announced a partnership with the city to build a state-of-the-art athletic complex that will transform the William E. Carter Playground.

“It’s a powerful partnership between Northeastern University and the city of Boston,” he said.

The ISEC is being built on a 3.5-acre parcel owned by Northeastern and previously used as surface parking. Designed by the architectural firm Payette, the complex will include wet and dry lab facilities, educational laboratories, classrooms, and offices for faculty members and graduate students. 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.

There are also 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 ties to its surrounding communities.

Northeastern is investing about $225 million in the ISEC, which will strengthen the Columbus Avenue corridor, improve pedestrian connections, and create new open space and streetscape amenities to be shared with the surrounding community.

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