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Boston area colleges and universities launch major construction projects

Posted by Your Town  July 3, 2013 05:21 PM

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As the seasons shift from spring to summer, Boston-area colleges and universities see their students leave for a few months, as their campuses transform into construction sites. Here's a look at some of the biggest projects that are underway:

Boston University:

Boston University announced last week that it is investing $70 million on 20 construction projects this summer, including a new athletic field, expansions to the School of Law, and a number of renovations to dorms and campus buildings.

Crews are installing the AstroTurf for the new athletic field in the West Campus. According to the story in BU Today, the project will double BU’s athletic field capacity. The School of Law expansion will also continue this summer. Crews will renovate the existing 265-foot tower and construct a new west wing, which will house additional classrooms as well as additional library and study space.

BU is gutting the first floor of one of its buildings to make room for the Kilachand Honors College; crews will renovate the facilities and convert a dining room into a student lounge and study area.

Work will continue on the Admissions Reception Center, which is slated to open in January 2014. The center will include a 150-seat auditorium, and a new landscaped pedestrian plaza.

“The whole city and campus seems to empty during the summer, so this is the perfect time for us to work on these projects,” David Flynn, assistant vice president of construction services at Facilities Management & Planning told BU Today. “Especially large projects that have a direct impact on campus, like the Law School. Through late August, we will be doing as much work as we possibly can so that we can wrap up many of the projects by the time students return.”

Emerson College:

Emerson is in the midst of building its Los Angeles campus, according to college officials. The new center will cost $85 million.

Kevin Bright, the senior executive director and founding director of the LA campus, said that the campus will be solely comprised of a 100,000 square-foot, 10-story building. He called the facility “a campus inside of a building.” The building, which is scheduled to open on January 15, will include 200 dorm rooms, an executive screening room, a teleconferencing room for distance learning, post-production editing studios, and an open space with trees, balconies, and barbeque pits.

“I think the potential for the college is huge,” Bright said in a phone interview.

Emerson also announced in early June that it plas to build a multistory building to house a 750-student dorm and other facilities in a downtown alley.

In a letter of intent filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority on June 5, Emerson associate vice president Margaret A. Ings wrote that the space houses the Estate nightclub at 1 and 2 Boylston Place, Sweetwater Cafe at 3 Boylston Place, the Tavern Club at 4 Boylston Place, and two other structures owned by the Tavern Club at 5 and 6 Boylston Place.

Northeastern University:

Northeastern University recently announced that it will expand Snell Library’s Digital Media Commons by adding a 3-D printing facility, upgraded studios, and new audio/visual equipment. The university is also constructing a “simulation laboratories suite,” which will “facilitate healthcare instruction using computer-driven mannequins and lifelike models, allowing faculty and students to replicate clinical symptoms and modulate realistic human responses,” according to a statement on the university’s website.

“These resources will offer stu­dents rich learning envi­ron­ments that pro­vide a range of aca­d­emic ben­e­fits, including group col­lab­o­ra­tion, aca­d­emic instruc­tion, access to cutting-edge tech­nology, and expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion,” Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, said in the statement.

Suffolk University:

Suffolk University is in the initial stages of constructing a new campus building at 20 Somerset St., which will offer general-use and science classrooms, a cafeteria, as well as indoor and outdoor lounging areas.

The $62 million building is slated to open in the summer of 2015, according to a statement on the university’s website.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino praised the project earlier this year, saying in the statement that “through institutional planning we’re encouraging colleges and universities to look at their assets strategically. Suffolk University’s decision to consolidate classroom space in a new building closer to the core of their campus benefits the institution and their neighbors in Beacon Hill.”

Berklee College of Music:

Berklee College of Music is finishing construction on a 155,000-plus square-foot, 16-story building this summer. The building, which is at 160 Massachusetts Avenue, will include 370 beds for student housing; this means that the college will be able to house all of its incoming students for the first time.

The building will house a 400-seat dining hall, recording studios, an evening performance venue, a ground floor retail space, practice rooms, and a small fitness center.

Harvard University:

A number of projects are underway at Harvard. This summer, the school will continue to renovate two of its dormitories, also known as “houses,” and in August, crews will begin to convert the Inn at Harvard into temporary student housing.

The university is expanding and restoring its museum at 32 Quincy St., to “protect and preserve Harvard’s world-class collection and enhance the teaching and research mission of the Harvard Art Museums,” according to the university’s website.

The university is also continuing construction on Tata Hall, a new residential and educational building for the Harvard Business School.

According to school officials, Harvard’s new Institutional Master Plan for Allston development, which includes 9 projects over the next ten years, will be submitted to the city of Boston in July.

Boston College:

Boston College is renovating its historic St. Mary’s Hall, which is the second-oldest building on the Chestnut Hill campus, according to a statement from the university.

Crews will convert part of the building into academic space for the communications and computer studies departments, as well as for the Woods College of Advanced Studies. The building will reopen in January 2015.

Katherine Landergan can be reached at For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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