Boston University administrators and Boston city officials gathered Thursday to break ground at 610 Commonwealth Ave., the site of BU’s new Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering.
The center, which will be built on the parking lot between the Alfred L. Morse Auditorium and the College of Communication, will highlight seven key areas of research: photonics, synthetic and systems biology, systems neuroscience, data science, global health, urban health and infectious disease, said Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research at BU, at a town hall meeting in December.
“Boston University has emerged as a major private research university in a relatively short period of time, in the last few decades, and it was not by accident. It was by intentional design, much like the design that went into this facility,” BU President Robert Brown said at the ground-breaking ceremony.
Walters joined Brown on stage Thursday, along with BU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jean Morrison, Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Knox and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, who each gave brief remarks about the expanded research opportunities to come from CILSE.
Walsh, who said Brown has been a tremendous help to him over his 17 months in office, highlighted the importance of the university’s commitment to research.
“From a parking lot to a nine-story building with cutting-edge research, I don’t think we could imagine any greater transformation on one piece of parceled land in the city of Boston. But that’s the power of science and innovation here in our city,” Walsh said.
Walsh also emphasized the effect this research could have on the global community.
“Higher education and life science are Boston’s unique strengths where we truly stand out,” he said. “They’re the reasons why people choose to travel to our city, to invest in our city and to believe in Boston over every other part of the world.”
Following the ground-breaking ceremony, a reception was held for the approximately 75 attendees, which included members of the Board of Trustees, deans of several undergraduate colleges and others involved in the BU community.
Ryan Roth Gallo, chairman of the Board of Overseers and a member of the Board of Trustees, said after the ceremony that Boston is a hub for medical and life sciences, and the construction of CILSE continues to put BU “on the map” as a place for students and researchers around the world.
“The concept is a great one. It’s really on the cutting edge,” she said. “You have to bring people from all different departments, researchers from all different disciplines together to solve these big problems that the world is facing, and luckily, and happily, BU is here to meet the challenge and be a real leader.”