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Interdisciplinary Capstone Team Reimagines Forsyth Street as Iconic Green Space

May 3, 2016

CEE & CAMD capstone students design plan to convert Forsyth Street into a peaceful green space.

Source: News @ Northeastern

Civil Engineering students Ellis Hecht, E'16/MS'16, Sarah Ebaugh, E'16, and Julieta Moradei, E'16 worked with a team of talented engineers, architects, and graphic designers (students from COE and CAMD) to convert Forsyth Street into a peaceful green space in the middle of Boston.  

An inter­dis­ci­pli­nary team of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dents and fac­ulty have com­bined their knowl­edge of engi­neering and archi­tec­ture to create a plan to revi­talize Forsyth Street, a city road that runs through the middle of campus.

The con­cept was cre­ated for a senior cap­stone project, a large- scale effort com­prising a total of 20 stu­dents from the Col­lege of Engi­neering and the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design. And while there’s no formal plan to imple­ment the pro­posal, the team is hoping its con­cept will spur con­ver­sa­tion and fur­ther collaborations.

Led by a fac­ulty member from each of the two col­leges, the pro­posal aims to trans­form Forsyth Street from a prime thor­ough­fare for cars and buses into a lush green space for pedes­trians and bicy­clists. Its sig­na­ture component—a curved pedes­trian bridge, 150 feet long and 30 feet high—would pro­vide direct access to four green rooftop spaces while acting as an iconic gateway into the heart of campus.

“Northeastern’s co- op pro­gram and inter­na­tional pres­ence set it apart from all other uni­ver­si­ties,” said Ellis Hecht, E’16/MS’16, who helped to design the con­cept for the pedes­trian bridge. “But we need some­thing that sets our campus apart from the rest.”

The cap­stone project was spear­headed by Julieta Moradei, E’16, a fifth- year civil engi­neering major with a strong interest in incor­po­rating the prin­ci­ples of archi­tec­ture into her co- ops and class­work. After lob­bying to work on a cap­stone project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the archi­tec­ture depart­ment, she con­nected with two fac­ulty mem­bers who believed in her inter­dis­ci­pli­nary vision—Janos Stone, lec­turer in the Depart­ment of Art + Design, and Daniel Dulaski, asso­ciate teaching pro­fessor of civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering. Then she worked with them to assemble a tal­ented team of engi­neers, archi­tects, and graphic designers, stu­dents in COE and CAMD who con­vened to create an excep­tion­ally well- researched, thoughtful, and cre­ative pro­posal to redesign the street dividing campus in two.

“We feel this design fills so many needs of the uni­ver­sity and its urban campus,” Dulaski said. “It takes such an inno­v­a­tive and unique approach, one that’s won­derful for bicy­clists and pedes­trians as well as event staff and mar­keting.” Noted Stone: “The stu­dents worked on this project with a very con­tem­po­rary way of thinking, taking a blue sky approach. Their entire con­cept is very cool.”

04/22/16 - BOSTON, MA. - Engineering and Arts Media Design students present their capstone project aimed at redesigning Forsyth Street in Curry Student Center on April 22, 2016. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Julieta Moradei spear­headed the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary cap­stone project. Here, she dis­cusses the pro­posed bridge. Photo by Adam Glanzman/ Northeastern University

Under the pro­posed plan, Forsyth, Green­leaf, and Leon streets would be closed to vehic­ular traffic, trans­forming them into pedestrian- only zones a la New York’s Times Square and Boston’s Down­town Crossing. The trans­porta­tion and indus­trial engi­neering stu­dents re- routed shuttle busses that access Forsyth Street and cre­ated drop- off zones for cars on Opera Place, Parker Street, and Hunt­ington Avenue, in front of Krentzman Quad. They also improved the university’s bicycle net­work, proposing a cycle track on S. Forsyth Street as well as mixed- use paths to con­nect campus with Parker Street and the South­west Cor­ridor Park.

“We tried to make as many con­nec­tions as pos­sible to any future bike net­works that Boston might want to imple­ment,” explained Sarah Ebaugh, E’16, a fifth- year civil engi­neering major. She studied the Nether­lands’ state- of- the- art cycling infra­struc­ture during a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram there last summer and then served as the cap­stone project’s bike and trans­porta­tion spe­cialist. As she put it, “I was really trying to push the impor­tance of cyclists and pedes­trians over motor vehicles.”

The struc­tural engi­neers designed the bridge, which is com­posed of two columns with can­tilever arms extending from both ends. Moradei calls it the “spine of North­eastern,” the meaning of which is both lit­eral and fig­u­ra­tive: “Not only does it look like a spine, but it func­tions as one too,” she explained. “It is located at the core of campus and is the iconic struc­ture you will see as you first walk into Northeastern.”

The archi­tects and graphic designers col­lab­o­rated with the engi­neers to create the green rooftop spaces, per­haps the most novel of the proposal’s com­po­nents. Each space—whether on the top of Dockser Hall, the Forsyth Building, the Snell Engi­neering Center, or the Dana Research Center—is designed for a par­tic­ular activity and fea­tures mod­ular ele­ments that are at once recon­fig­urable and highly personalized.


The “Sky­larium,” fea­turing a glass dome through which viewers could marvel at Boston’s skyline.

Dubbed the “Fit Roof,” Dana’s space is designed for group work­outs and includes a mod­ular tool that can be used for a variety of dif­ferent exer­cises. Forsyth’s roof is ded­i­cated to live per­for­mances a la after­Hours and fea­tures retractable seating. Snell’s roof, called the “Sky­larium,” is some­thing of a lounge area with rotating chairs that can trans­form into tables and recline back­ward. And Docker’s roof, known as ReNU Relax, is a med­i­ta­tive space with cus­tomiz­able music, seating, and skylights.

“There is a need for more space to study and relax and hang out on campus,” said Diego Rivas, E’16, who designed the con­cept for the “Sky­larium” using a computer- aided- design pro­gram. “I don’t know any other place in Boston that is expanding upward rather than outward.”

The cap­stone team esti­mates that the project would cost $6.8 mil­lion to imple­ment and take up to 24 months to com­plete. Said Ebaugh: “It could really pro­vide campus with so much more space as well as a very com­pelling and inno­v­a­tive design.”


Congratulations on completing the capstone and graduating this year!


Highlighted in news@Northeastern.  
By: Jason Kornwitz