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New Northeastern building would include space for improving driverless cars - and building humanoid robots that could ride in them

Proposed Northeastern University building

Architect's rendering.

Northeastern University has filed plans with the BPDA for a new eight-story science building next to the new science building it opened on Columbus Avenue in 2017.

The building, dubbed EXP, would house "research and office space for faculty, interdisciplinary research clusters/collaborative space, specialized teaching labs, classrooms, and student space" as an extension of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex that opened in 2017. But also, the building:

[W]ill expand and compliment the ISEC program by providing additional classrooms, laboratories, and a dynamic new makerspace hub supporting the entire campus community. Ground-level program space will serve makerspace, active learning classrooms, and high bay robotics research, supporting Northeastern’s innovative work in autonomous vehicles, drones, and humanoid robots. This will place these exciting programs on display while providing them with the direct street level access needed for periodic vehicular equipment transport.

Makerspaces are places where students and faculty from multiple departments can used 3D printers, laser cutters and other devices to, well, make things.

The filing says the building will help improve the surrounding neighborhood both because it would "animate and enhance the quality of the Columbus Avenue streetscape and neighborhood through the extended plaza paving, landscaping, lighting, and a visually open building design" and because it would make it a safer area by bringing people in 24/7. Also:

The Project will complete the dramatic new urban path that overcomes the divide of the rail lines by unifying the Northeastern campus and two Boston Neighborhoods: Roxbury and the Fenway. The Project will provide an integrated landscape design with consistent details, and a durable palette of materials.

The path includes a new pedestrian bridge over the Orange Line and Northeast Corridor tracks, which was built as part of the ISEC project.

Northeastern hopes to begin three years of construction in early 2020.

EXP project-notification form (28M PDF).

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Comments

The path includes a new pedestrian bridge over the Orange Line and Northeast Corridor tracks, which was built as part of the ISEC project.

Is there a pedestrian bridge across the tracks right now? I haven't been down that way in quite awhile.

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There is a bridge that was built that hasn't opened yet - scheduled to be open for the fall semester.

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stairs (and an elevator) at one end! Assuming to discourage people from biking on campus.

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Probably less expensive than building an elaborate series of ramps. ADA is covered with the elevator.

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There is already an outdoor elevator on campus to get you to the front of West Village E.

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For those keeping score at home, the foot bridge opened today!

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Why spend money on dross like driverless cars. For a fraction of the money you could build a school of urbanism that helps design for the lack of need for cars at all.

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Good point. Transportation thinker and ZipCar co-founder Robin Chase makes a credible argument that self-driving cars could make cities far worse than they are now. "Self-driving Cars: The Hell Scenario"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkMDVV4I3tM

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Short of someone like AOC or Hugo Chavez becoming President -- cars are not going away

Oh, they might look differently and be powered differently and be semi-or-more autonomous than the majority do today -- but they are just too too useful to not have them

They just are so so much much more modern than traditional mass transit. Just like a packet network [aka the Internet] an individual vehicle [packet] can share the same infrastructural channels [transportation network] with a myriad of others but be individualized and personalized as to origin and destination.

Consider the newish use of cars as Mass Transit Vehicles as per the Boring Company

Consider an enlightened transportation network based on electric vehicles Zipcar-style that you could pick up at Logan [from a continuing stream at a designated point could be many boarded in parallel at once].

The "Transcars" all follow a designated restricted path -- each vehicle surrenders control to the network to be admitted -- most every vehicle would travel to the Seaport in a cohort then branch to:

  1. Seaport / South Boston Local,
  2. South Bay / Dorchester Local
  3. Roxbury / South End Local
  4. Back Bay Tunnel with further branches to
    1. Fenway / JP
    2. Cambridge: Harvard / Kendall Watertown / Sommerville
    3. Downtown tunnel with further branches to RT-128 [N,S,W].

After dropping you off locally the vehicle returns as required and as permitted by its state of charge, etc.

Everybody gets the equivalent effectively of Valet Parking without much if any queuing for a bus or traditional transit vehicle and without having to drag your luggage to / from a traditional station

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There's a difference between "eliminating all cars" and "exchanging internal-combustion engines for electric motors."

I mean, rich people love their Teslas, and so do Norwegians. We can get into a debate over whether we can build a green infrastructure to support all those electric cars, but that wasn't your point - you just reached for a handy smear with which to introduce your otherwise interesting proposal.

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just to avoid being on a train or bus. By the way, nobody has proposed banning cars. There's definitely a first mile/last mile problem to be worked out, and smaller vehicles of some sort will be part of that.

Elon Musk's plans are kind of searching for an additional problem beyond congestion - germaphobia, classism, etc. If you've stopped owning the vehicle because you're paying a monthly membership fee to use the network, that sounds an awful lot like a monthly transit pass/fare. You're just insisting that it be smaller vehicles than train cars because...reasons.

When you come up with a fully-fleshed out model that INCLUDES externalities, I'm sure many of us would be happy to take a look. Somehow I imagine it will studiously avoid externalities.

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Let's say I live in Auburn and could tell my driver-less car to take me to the Leather District in Boston (about 45 miles) and I know it will take me an hour and half to get there. Since I don't have to actually drive, I can be working during the whole drive. Suddenly all those towns that are kind of "too far" to commute from regularly by car are perfectly OK. We're going to need London-style congestion pricing to make this less attractive or the city will be over-run with all these new commuters.

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and where we decide to build new housing units.

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Bose Wave and new building

Shelley T. notes the similarity between the architect's rendering and a mid-80s Bose Acoustic Wave radio.

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