NESAD to join central campus at 20 Somerset

Tom Russo
Journal Staff

It has been nearly a year since the Boston Redevelopment Authority unanimously approved Suffolk ‘s 20 Somerset project. The university is moving forward with its plans, seeking further financing that Greg Gatlin, director of Public Affairs, is “excited” and “optimistic” that it will arrive.

The proposed plan for the building includes a total overhaul of the former Metropolitan District Commission headquarters that will serve as the site for 20 Somerset.  Once completed, the state of the art facility will house the New England School of Art and Design (NESAD) with “40 general use classrooms with energy efficient lighting and heating, art studios, faculty offices, and a public art gallery,” said Gatlin.

The gallery will primarily feature the artwork of NESAD students. “It’s an important goal of the university to bring NESAD into the central campus,” he said.

“I think it will help the university as a whole,” said junior Kristen Kelly, an interior design major. “It will add to the Suffolk community. NESAD is often seen as a separate community.”

According to junior Brayden Varr, many people don’t know where NESAD is, or that it even exists.

“With a closer location to all the other Suffolk buildings, NESAD could gain more students which is good because us art kids live in a pretty sweet world,” said sophomore and fine arts major Karen Truscott.

NESAD is currently located at 75 Arlington Street, about two miles from Suffolk’s main campus. “I think it’ll be great when we can finally have our own building instead of renting out of an office building,” said junior Tim Kelley, a graphic design major. “The atmosphere will be much more comforting as opposed to the stale corporate marble that is 75 Arlington.”

The $68 million estimated cost of the project will further serve to enliven Romer plaza, which has sat in the shadow of the dilapidated former MDC building for years. The building’s modern design includes glass facades on the north and south sides of building, allowing more light to penetrate the windy, shadow-covered top of the hill and an actual renovation of Romer plaza itself.

“By renovating Romer plaza, we want to create a public green space,” said Gatlin. “A small park-like atmosphere and a landscaped area that workers, students, and the public can all enjoy.”

“I can’t wait to hear more about 20 Somerset, as I’ve only heard about it vaguely, being a new transfer student at NESAD,” said Merryn MacDonald, a graphic design major. “What I have heard sounds great.”

“20 Somerset is an important unifying project for Suffolk University and will serve as a flagship academic building,” said Gatlin. As far as an estimated date of completion, he could not say much other than it will be a fine addition and they only have optimism concerning the execution and completion of the project.

Angela Bray of Journal Staff contributed to this story.