ISEC opening marks realization of Provost Emeritus Director’s vision

Provost Emeritus Stephen Director waves during the opening ceremony of the grand opening of Northeastern’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

For Provost Emeritus Stephen Director, Monday’s official opening of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex is the culmination of nearly a decade of planning.

“There was a big vision—and this was a piece of that vision—to help Northeastern become a world class research institution, with a focus on use-inspired research,” Director says.

And his vision for the building itself reflects that focus. Director says that ISEC was designed to facilitate a collaborative approach to taking on grand challenges.

“We wanted to encourage those sorts of serendipitous meetings, and a space where researchers could show off the work they’re doing,” Director says, pointing to the building’s adaptive open space and walls of windows. While the building has remained true to its original design so many years ago, Director says seeing it come alive is remarkable.

Another piece of his vision was the spiral staircase that anchors the main space—a staircase President Joseph E. Aoun called “Steve’s spiral” in his opening remarks earlier in the day.

Director laughs recalling that and explains, “All of what you gain in visibility throughout the building is lost if you have to go up and down in a closed-off elevator. This staircase makes it easy for people to communicate with each other between floors.”

The goals behind the design are already coming to fruition, Director says. “You see all the new institutes opening up and finding space in this building. And four to five years down the road, you’ll only see more of that in here.”