Take a look inside EXP, Northeastern University’s new research center

EXP, Northeastern University’s dynamic eight-story center for science, engineering, and computer science, is on track to open in fall 2023.

Rising alongside the Complementary Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Park (ISEC), the new 357,000 square foot facility will create opportunities to advance the prospects for science, engineering, teaching and creativity.

“It’s going to be an exciting, bustling place, full of intellectual activity,” says David Madigan, dean and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern University. “It will also serve as a welcome mat for our neighbors on this side of the campus and encourage interaction with our neighbors.”

EXP is actively seeking a collaboration with a community entrepreneur to operate its café, says Kathy Spiegelman, vice president of campus planning at Northeastern.

Many EXP floors are divided into four boroughs, allowing majors for teaching and spaces for makers, biology, chemistry, dry labs, and other computational disciplines. These quadrants are lined with soft spaces — kitchenettes, meeting rooms, and lounges — where collaboration can occur.

Equipped with technology amenities, sign boards, and ergonomic furniture, these layers of learning are important drivers that will enable EXP to help achieve Northeastern’s academic plan, Experience Unleashed, that leverages multidisciplinary networks to open up new horizons for learning.

“It’s a modern space that greatly facilitates collaborative work,” Madigan says. “And that’s what the academic plan is about.”

EXP development helps drive Northeastern’s commitment to having 500 full-time faculty members and research participants over the next five years.

“We may end up hiring a lot more than that,” Madigan says. Diversity in EXP is built with the understanding that needs are bound to change. Lessons learned from the successful development of ISEC inspired Payet, the architect of both buildings, to include infrastructure that will enable dry laboratories to transform into wet laboratories.

On any given day in the lead up to the project’s completion, more than 300 workers can be found building the site based on detailed blueprints – a thick volume of drawings and massive specifications that have enabled contractor, Suffolk Construction, to maintain momentum despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Academic research and a teaching building are one of the most complex types of buildings,” says Jeremy Moon, director of the Planning, Real Estate and Facilities Program at Northeastern University. “It is like a hospital with all the necessary infrastructure – plenty of clean air, basic electrical requirements, specialty gases and chemical waste systems, all the components to support research. The academic science and engineering space has to be particularly flexible because research is always changing.”

The gray walls and floors of EXP Precast Concrete will polish the center with “industrial chic” aesthetics. The stainless steel exterior facade panels are playful horizontal fins that will open to provide lighting for social spaces – or closed for those rooms where research calls for dull conditions.

The centerpiece of the building is a circular spiral staircase up to the seventh floor, where a skylight fills the vertical corridor with a natural ambiance.

As much as EXP prioritizes facilities, the upper floor promises to provide a new destination for the campus based on its open rooftop garden overlooking Columbus Avenue. This welcoming space and the nearby faculty club are served by a large multipurpose space that can be adapted for everything from board meetings to presentations and art exhibitions.

The building prioritizes efficiency with three main entry points. Come through the front doors at 815 Columbus Avenue and you will be welcomed into a two-story high bay space that offers full view of students and faculty operating a large robotic crane for their latest projects (which can be seen from the street as well).

Another entrance on the first floor is served by the plaza, allowing a quick 50-foot walk to ISEC for a class or meeting with peer researchers.

Then there is the access from the footbridge – currently fenced until next summer – which will take students directly to the second floor of the EXP, where there will be classrooms and plenty of space for the student maker. Walkways and stairways serviced by the bridge have been widened to help prevent pedestrian backups as they move between classrooms.

“The pedestrian bridge to this side of the campus opened an entire new wing of the university,” Madigan says. “Everything is so wonderful to see.”

For media inquiriesPlease contact Shannon Narji at [email protected] or 617-373-5718.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: