Preparations Begin for Cutting-Edge Academic Building

Rendering of 20 Somerset Street, north side


Site preparations are under way at 20 Somerset Street, as crews begin preliminary construction work on an academic building that will provide the University with state-of-the-art classrooms and a permanent home for the New England School of Art & Design.

Demolition of the abandoned former Metropolitan District Commission building is scheduled to begin in early January to make way for construction of an eight-story, 112,000-square-foot building that will include classrooms with full media technology, studios for art students, and gallery space.

The old MDC building will be wrapped to contain dust then demolished in pieces from the top down. Construction of the new academic building is slated begin in early spring. The project is targeted for completion in December 2012 and will open as soon as January 2013.

The University also will transform the adjacent Roemer Plaza between 20 Somerset and the Sawyer Business School into a welcoming open space for students, neighbors, and workers in surrounding buildings.

The building and plaza designs are the result of a close collaboration between the University and a community task force whose members come from surrounding neighborhoods and which includes neighbors on Beacon Hill and representatives of the abutting Garden of Peace.

The 20 Somerset building will feature:

  • A vibrant glass facade on the south side designed to enliven an improved Roemer Plaza
  • A quiet facade on the opposite side, designed to be respectful of the neighboring Garden of Peace memorial to homicide victims
  • State-of-the-art classrooms for students in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Art studios for instruction in painting, drawing, sculpture, and printing, along with electronic classrooms for computer instruction in graphic design and interior design
  • Faculty offices
  • A public art gallery displaying student and professional work as well as critique spaces

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Greg Gatlin

Mariellen Norris