Plans for a new campus building at 20 Somerset St. include new general-use and science classrooms, a light-filled cafeteria space that can be adapted for University functions, and indoor and outdoor lounging areas.
President James McCarthy presented the preliminary building design during a town-hall-style meeting at the C. Walsh Theatre.
Projected to open in 2015
“If all goes according to plan, the new building will open in late summer 2015,” said McCarthy.
While the size of the building was fixed by agreement with the Boston Redevelopment Authority some years back, the specifics of how the space will be allocated are now being finalized, with input being sought from faculty who will teach there.
Community organizations have written letters of support for the plan, which goes before the BRA on Feb. 14. In accordance with the University’s master plan, classrooms now housed in buildings adjacent to Beacon Hill residential areas will move to 20 Somerset St.
As a result, the University will refit the Donahue and Archer buildings for office space, and it will sell Fenton, the Fenton Annex and the Ridgeway building. The University will retain a gymnasium; either by finding a new space or leasing back the existing Regan Gymnasium in the Ridgeway basement.
The sleek new building plan encompasses 112,000 square feet in 10 floors, two of them partially or fully below grade. There will be four floors each of general and science classrooms of various sizes, providing 1,100 classroom seats. A floor in the middle of the building will be dedicated to student support services, including computer labs and the Ballotti Learning Center.
The plan also aims to provide a space for larger campus activities.
“The Function Room in the Law School is the most popular room on campus, and it’s heavily booked,” said McCarthy. “We asked the architect to design the café so that it can be used as a function room when not in use as a dining hall.”
Landscaped meeting area
The building will be surrounded by open space, with the state-owned Roemer Plaza on one side and the Garden of Peace on the other. The entry will open out onto Roemer Plaza, which will be landscaped to provide an inviting area for students to gather and a natural transition to the Sawyer Building.
The University, as is its practice, is ensuring that 20 Somerset St. is designed to meet high standards for green design and sustainability and will seek LEED Silver certification for the building.