Luminaries help celebrate grand opening of EXP research center and Northeastern’s ‘commitment for a better world’ 

Over a dozen people stand on a stage for the EXP grand opening, cutting red ribbons.
The ribbon is cut at the EXP grand opening event on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan celebrated “a reflection of excellence” as he joined Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and members of the state’s congressional delegation to officially open the university’s new EXP research complex on Monday. 

“This EXP building is an exciting place — that’s what EXP stands for,” Panchanathan said during a ceremony on the Boston campus. “It’s truly an example of what our nation needs all across our nation.

“Because it is going to make excellent progress — excellent progress for solving societal problems, economic issues, as well as national security issues. This truly is a reflection of excellence.”

The eight-story, 357,000-square-foot EXP complex features floors of classrooms and research labs, a 15,000-square-foot makerspace, robotics lab, roof terrace and much more. Its grand opening and ribbon-cutting was attended by political dignitaries, students from the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science and university leaders. 

Just before red ribbons were dropped from above the stage and the ceremonial scissors were presented to dignitaries, Aoun said that the celebration was about much more than an individual building. 

“We are here today not to celebrate a building, but to celebrate a commitment for a better world,” Aoun said. “And this is something that will endure for many, many generations to come.”

Video: The new EXP research center will make for a better university, city, state and nation. Video by Jorgy Cruz and Adam Fischer/Northeastern University

Healey, a proud Northeastern graduate who remembered the site of the research complex as a parking lot during her law school days, emphasized the leading role EXP would play in advancing the state.

“It is a thrill to be here with all of you today to celebrate this incredible EXP facility — this facility for science, innovation and learning, and leading,” said Healey. “As everyone knows, Massachusetts is a leader on so many fronts, and it’s our job and, my job in particular, to make sure we are lengthening our lead every step of the way, and it’s this kind of investment, this kind of facility, that’s going to get us there.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren concurred with the potential for the research complex, calling it an investment aligned with recent federal investments in science and technology such as the CHIPS and Science Act. 

“The EXP building is an incredible example of what’s still to come, it is an example of what investment in these state-of-the-art laboratories can mean for medical advancement, it is an investment in what lives can be saved thanks to advancements students here make in robotics, it is an investment in what knowledge we can acquire about oceans or outer space with the robotics,” Warren said. 

She also called EXP a “playground of ideas” that will complement Northeastern’s emphasis on experiential learning.

“Northeastern is not just a place to learn about science, technology and math, this is a place where students get their hands dirty by diving into real-world problems,” Warren continued. “The EXP building is a testament to our commitment to scientific excellence and exploration. It is a place for the brightest minds to come together and solve the world’s most pressing problems and to make long-lasting contributions to science and technology.”

The invited guests were welcomed by Richard D’Amore, chair of the Board of Trustees. Several speakers focused not just on the physical beauty of the new research complex, but the learning and opportunities inside.

“We in Boston are proud that we can point to the physical reminders of our brilliance and the ways that we are shaping the country, but we know that it’s not really about the buildings — as beautiful and well made as they are,” Wu said. “It’s about the community inside and the talent that is being nurtured and the pathways to all the jobs that are being created.”

Six public figures laugh together while cutting red ribbons on a stage.
NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Northeastern student James Tukpah, and Board of Trustees members Chris Viehbacher and Rich D’Amore share a laugh after the ribbon-cutting at the opening of Northeastern’s EXP research center. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, representing the 7th Congressional District in which the Boston campus is located, touted EXP as a demonstration of Northeastern’s “commitment to build a more just, equitable and inclusive society.”

“The EXP space will be a space for cultivating opportunities from surrounding high schools, so this is an opportunity to invest in our young people, in our community at large,” Pressley said. “EXP will inspire the next generation of diverse leaders in STEM, right here in Boston, because in order to be it, you must see it.”

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch likewise emphasized community partnerships, and praised Aoun for making the EXP research complex a university priority.

“Each year I become more and more aware of the great work Northeastern does in terms of providing opportunities for young people, many of them young people of color in my district, that  would not otherwise be able to receive a college education,” said Lynch, who represents the 8th Congressional District. “We have a wonderful constellation of universities in Boston and Massachusetts, but no one does it better, no one is more generous to families who might otherwise not have that opportunity than President Joseph Aoun.” 

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. (and proud Husky Dad) James P. McGovern said EXP was “inspiring,” and “about the future of learning.”

“This isn’t just another building full of classrooms and labs; this is a building about thinking outside the box,” said McGovern, who represents the 2nd Congressional District. “Without a doubt, the EXP building is going to cement Northeastern’s status as a premier, world-class R1 institution where students and faculty make major discoveries and solve big problems.”

Christopher Viehbacher, CEO of Biogen and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, said that EXP will prepare students for a world in which “the importance of education, training and development of people in science and technology has never been greater.”

“I believe that the success of Northeastern is a result of a world-class faculty; its commitment to leading edge technologies, as exemplified by this building; and experiential learning,” Viehbacher said. “I admire the impressive architecture of this building but, like others have said, I am even more excited for what will go on inside this building as faculty and students build our future.”

The event was emceed by Ph.D. student and triple Husky James Tukpah, who spoke of the new research complex as an “an addition to the village” of Northeastern.

“Today we are not celebrating just a building, we are celebrating not just a university, we are celebrating an addition to our village and a community that I can be proud of as we do our best to support those that are coming behind us,” Tukpah said.

Cyrus Moulton is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on X/Twitter @MoultonCyrus.