1024px emerson college boston ma

Learning and Community: Colleges Moving Towards Flexible Spaces

Colleges and universities around the country are working with a new breed of architects to design flexible spaces, places where students, faculty, and staff can gather to learn, innovate, collaborate and socialize. Here in Massachusetts, five institutions – Northeastern University, Emerson College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Lasell College and MIT– are among a host of educational institutions investing in new facilities that create a sense of connection and community.  

Northeastern University, Boston, MA – Built on a former brownfield site, Northeastern’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) is a 234,000-square-foot center, the anchor for several of the school’s primary disciplines: health sciences, basic sciences, engineering, and computer science.

Completed in 2017, the energy efficient complex —which was designed to encourage collaborative research— includes a new pedestrian bridge, allowing students, residents, faculty, and staff safe access to nearby businesses and neighborhoods. This contemporary, light-filled space is a global laboratory which “unites science and engineering under one roof, complementing cross-disciplinary initiatives and partnerships across the university and beyond.”

The engineering and consulting firm Arup, and Payette, served as the designers on the new facility.

Emerson College, Boston, MA: Emerson recently opened a new Student Dining Center at 122 Boylston Street and a new residence hall nearby at 2 Boylston Place.

At more than 18,000 square feet, the multipurpose Student Dining Center spans two above-ground floors and offers much needed social spaces for the urban campus, including seating for 530 (nearly double the capacity of the previous dining hall), a performance stage area, and a meeting space for faculty and staff. The façade of the building has been renewed to resemble the building as it stood in the 1920s on the edge of Boston’s “Piano Row.”

The new 18-story residence hall at 2 Boylston Place houses 375 students and features a beautified thoroughfare, including the re-bricking of the public pedestrian walkway, retention of the façade of the historic Ancient Landmark Building and the gas lamps along Boylston Place. There is also the addition of a new café, which is open to the public and includes outdoor seating. Parts of the interior have been carefully preserved to reflect elements of the historic structure as well.

The renovations were designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects.

Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA: Last year, Wentworth Institute of Technology broke ground on its Boston campus for its first new academic building in more than 45 years. Set to open in 2019, the $55 million Engineering, Innovation & Sciences Building will be home to the school’s biomedical engineering, biomedical, civil engineering and experiential learning programs as well as science and manufacturing labs; office space; and meeting/presentation areas for students, faculty, and staff. It will also house Wentworth’s innovation and entrepreneurship center, which serves as a launch pad for the institute’s extracurricular programs. The facility is located at 555 Parker Street, just around the corner from the Museum of Fine Arts, connecting Wentworth students with one of Boston’s most prized cultural institutions.

Gilbane Building Company is the project’s construction manager, while Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects of Boston is the architect for the 78,000-square-foot multipurpose facility.

Lasell College, Newton, MA: Last fall, Lasell unveiled its new Science and Technology Center, a state-of-the-art facility which features labs for athletic training, exercise science, mathematics, chemistry, and biology courses, as well as flexible areas with easy-to-move furniture for multidisciplinary use. The 48,300 square-foot building also includes 21 all-purpose classrooms, group study rooms, a café, an atrium with floor to ceiling windows and 29 faculty offices, marking a significant uptick in the number of spaces in which students can conduct research, tackle connected learning projects, and collaborate with faculty and one another.

In the coming months, the $24 million facility, which was designed by Cannon Design and constructed by Commodore Builders, will be home to the college’s IT help desk and bookstore as well.

MIT, Cambridge, MA: Looking beyond 2018, MIT has several major construction projects in the planning or development stage that are poised to further enhance their regional presence and the quality for those who spend time in their buildings. For instance, the Institute has identified repurposing the historic Metropolitan Warehouse on Massachusetts Avenue as a redevelopment opportunity, with options including modern common areas and study spaces for students, research hubs, and street-level retail. The school is also working on redeveloping the Volpe site in Kendall Square, a new effort to revitalize the tech-centered neighborhood. Currently, Site 4 in Kendall Square is also under construction, with plans to create a new innovation center as well as additional graduate housing and an updated admissions building. NADAA is the design architect, with Perkins+Will acting as the architect of record.


Together, these projects provide a snapshot of the higher ed “building boom” underway throughout the Commonwealth. Enhancing our already stellar colleges and universities, which attract students from around the world, will continue this momentum moving forward. By fostering the right balance of learning and community, these innovative touchstones are quietly reasserting the state’s long-distinguished record as a champion in education.

Contributor Bio

JM Electrical Co., Inc. was established over 30 years ago by Paul A. Guarracino who wanted to provide the highest level of quality service to the commercial electrical contracting market. Over the years, this commitment to service along with highly experienced and dedicated personnel has allowed our company to grow its customer base and make significant contributions to major projects in the Greater Boston area.

Today, JM Electrical enjoys a reputation as an industry leader in installing building automation systems and HVAC controls. JM Electrical possesses the technical expertise to assist our customers in executing all projects from selection to installation of the most sophisticated and cost-effective building management systems.

JM Electrical Company, Inc. >>

Related News

Aerial view of boston harbor and financial district at sunset in boston  massachusetts  usa  1087520112
Developments to Watch in 2020
Jan 22, 2020 - 2020 is here, which means a new chapter in Boston’s development...
Winter boston jm tl
Staying Safe and Staying Warm This Holiday Season
Dec 15, 2019 - Winter is here, which means two things for New Englanders, cold and (...
What makes cities attractive thought leadership
What Makes Cities Attractive for Businesses and Residents?
Nov 15, 2019 - Earlier this month, the City of Boston announced it had reached a maj...
Jm electrical october thought leadership
Field Innovation and Automation
Oct 24, 2019 - As technology continues to improve, the systems being installed conti...
Revere beach
Greater Boston Development
Sep 13, 2019 - Here are a few recent projects we think embody the modern revitalizat...
Boston traffic
Combating Traffic Congestion: The City of Boston’s Innovative Solutions
Oct 19, 2017 - The last time you were stuck in traffic, you probably wondered if con...
1907 future of airports beijing daxing international airport china zaha hadid architects 01
Global Architecture in 2019
Aug 20, 2019 - Here’s a glimpse at some of the most exciting projects and buil...
Apprenticeship jm electrical
Developing Young Talent and the Value of Apprenticeships
Jul 22, 2019 - Investing in employees through education and training helps ensure co...
Img 3713
10 Boston Development Moves to Watch in 2018
Jan 03, 2018 - After several years of what is possibly the biggest building boom in...
The boston housing market's battle of amenities jm electrical new construction
The Boston Housing Market’s Battle of Amenities
Sep 24, 2017 - The ongoing growth of the Boston development market has spurre...
Stay cool boston
The Hidden Systems Keeping You Cool
Jul 19, 2018 - As the summer heats up, many New England residents find themselves re...
Envoy hotel boston
The 8 Most Unique Open Space Locations in Boston
Jan 30, 2018 - As Boston experiences its biggest building boom in decades, public sp...
Sports stadiums rebuilding local neighborhoods enhancing local economies fenway boston jm electrical company inc
Sports Stadiums: Rebuilding Local Neighborhoods, Enhancing Local Economies
Nov 16, 2017 - For years, building sports stadiums – particularly in urban ar...
Boston Development’s Edge in the Life Science Market
Jul 25, 2017 - Earlier this summer, Governor Baker doubled down on the state’s treme...
Bostons best
Boston Named Top Summer Vacation Destination
Jun 21, 2018 - Recently, US News World Report reported that Boston was named the top su...
Dsc 1465
Massachusetts Building Code Updates' Impact on Local Development
Jul 10, 2017 - Recently, the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that ...
Boston top tech
These Top Tech Companies Continue to Call Boston Home
May 11, 2018 - Amazon's enhanced presence in Greater Boston and the possibility it w...
Boston landing
In Addition to the Seaport, These Boston Neighborhoods are Flourishing
Apr 20, 2018 - At nearly 1,000 acres, and with $18 billion in public money invested,...
Imagine boston 2030 plan jm electrical
Imagine Boston 2030: Walsh’s Impact on the Future of the City
Aug 21, 2017 - As the Boston Globe recently observed, the awarding of the 202...
Block 8 assembly row luxury apartments retail somerville mbta orange line federal realty stantec
With Housing Prices Rising, Developers May Be Under Increasing Pressure to Address Affordable Housing Need
Jun 21, 2017 - As housing prices skyrocket and more and more neighborhoods become ge...
33322161963 eb3878830c
Trump Budget Proposal: What it Means for Development Projects in 2017
Apr 14, 2017 - Many millennials and other young people walking through Somerville’s ...
Going green how modern atriums benefit the workplace jm electrical company inc
Going Green: How Modern Atriums Benefit the Workplace
Feb 21, 2018 - A recent study conducted by Harvard reaffirmed the positive impact th...
Liberty hotel boston's best buildings
JM Electrical’s Top 10 Buildings in Boston
Aug 21, 2018 - Recently, Boston Magazine published an
Boston construction jobs
Top Construction Jobs – September 2018
Sep 21, 2018 - According to recent studies from 
Boston autmn fall back
Fall Back 2018 & Winter Weatherization
Oct 16, 2018 - Fall is officially upon us, bringing colorful leaves, cooler weather ...
Boston's banking boom
Bank Branches 2.0
Nov 27, 2018 - As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston ha...
One seaport boston ma
One Stop Holiday Shopping
Dec 18, 2018 - The holiday season is in full swing, and according to a rec...
One dalton january 2
Projects to Watch in 2019
Jan 20, 2019 - Boston continues to experience its largest building boom in years. Ac...
Shutdown govt
Government Shutdown’s Impact on the Construction Industry
Feb 26, 2019 - According to the Congressional Budget Office, the five-week shutdown ...
Jm tl march
The Green New Deal
Mar 21, 2019 - The Green New Deal, is a popular topic of discussion which was recent...
Jm construction industry tl
The Construction Industry’s Response to Workforce Challenges and Meeting the Skills Gap Head-On
Apr 16, 2019 - With the latest uptick in building and development, it’s never ...
Construction stock
Substance Abuse in the Construction Industry
May 19, 2019 - The construction industry has one of the highest rates of s...
Jm freedom trail new developments
New Developments and Renovations along the Freedom Trail
Jun 23, 2019 -   As visitors walk the trail, they will also c...