File #3371: "SUN_vol34no53_2008.pdf"









Message from the President
Modern Theatre—Then and Now
The Different Faces of 20 Somerset
Employees React

Vol. 34, No. 5

Institutional Master Plan: A Blueprint for the University’s Future

Artists’ renderings show the Modern Theatre renovation and the projected view of 20 Somerset St., as seen from Ashburton Place.


he University celebrated a milestone this summer

when the city approved its Institutional Master Plan—a
move that sets the stage for the next 10 years of campus
growth and development.
Much of the initial focus has been on two key projects that will
move forward as a result of the master plan approval: Construction
is slated to begin this fall on the Modern Theatre and residence hall
in Downtown Crossing. And the proposed state-of-the-art academic
building and art school at 20 Somerset St. has entered its design and
permitting phase.
But the approval also paves the way for a student center, an
athletic center and more residential housing in the next phase of
Suffolk’s growth. The master plan identifies those needs and establishes a blueprint for their development in a way that benefits the
University and the city, while minimizing impacts on surrounding
“With all the needs the University has for facilities expansion,
we now have a much clearer path to getting it done,” said John
Nucci, vice president for external affairs. “This will be the first time

that the need for and potential locations of more residence halls, a
student center and an athletic center are identified in an approved
master plan.”
The Boston Redevelopment Authority board unanimously
backed Suffolk’s 10-year master plan in a June 24 vote. The city’s
Zoning Commission followed suit one month later, and the plan
was then signed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
Nucci praised the vision of University President David J. Sargent.
“President Sargent is completely tuned in to student and faculty
expectations for a 21st century university, and he has provided the
leadership to keep Suffolk ahead of the curve as technology and
infrastructure needs evolve,” said Nucci. “He is working to bring
new academic, housing and student services facilities online in a
way that benefits both the campus and the city.”
Community process

Perhaps most striking was the strong support the Institutional
Master Plan and the two development projects received from
Continued on page 2



A Message from the President


ach academic year begins with a sense of excitement and

purpose as colleagues reconnect, new community members are
made welcome, and we begin anew the mission of educating our
There is an extra spark of enthusiasm this year as we embark on
new campus building projects.

Lori Bate, president of the Beacon Hill Civic Association, and President
David J. Sargent sign historic agreement as John Nucci, Elizabeth Leary
and Michael Feeley of Government and Community Affairs look on.
(Photo by John Gillooly)

At a Glance…
Suffolk University’s Institutional Master Plan:

• Creates a framework for the University’s growth and development over the next 10 years

• Includes two specific projects—the Modern Theatre residence
hall in Downtown Crossing and a state-of-the-art academic
building at 20 Somerset Street

• Outlines geographic clusters for potential growth in the downtown area so that future expansion will not be concentrated in
a single cluster

• Broadens a non-expansion zone on Beacon Hill. The University

has agreed not to add any new classroom seats in any building
on Beacon Hill. Also, no dormitory, student center or athletic
center will be built on Beacon Hill

• Caps the University’s undergraduate enrollment in Boston
at the equivalent of 5,000 full-time students over the next
10 years

This special edition of the SUN details the University’s
Institutional Master Plan, which lays out how our campus will
change over the next 10 years and describes two new building
projects that will make our campus more functional and welcoming.
Incoming students now demand housing, and by offering safe,
on-campus housing to undergraduates at a time when the cost of
living is rising, we ease their transition into the world of higher
education. We also are realigning classrooms and enfolding the New
England School of Art & Design more closely into our core campus.
Our students continue to come to us from all walks of life, and
they hail from across the nation and around the world. We offer
them the opportunity to gain a superb education with the added
advantage of easy access to the historic, business, government and
cultural resources in downtown Boston. They in turn will benefit
the city through their good works and by breathing additional life
into downtown Boston all day and into the evening.
The enormous effort that went into the Institutional Master Plan
process involved several departments across campus, particularly
John Nucci and his team in Government and Community Affairs,
and I thank them. We also owe our gratitude to the community
members and city officials who worked diligently to help us finetune the plan so that it will benefit the community as well as the
David J. Sargent

Institutional Master Plan
Continued from page 1

Suffolk’s neighbors. During both the BRA board and Zoning
Commission hearings, public officials and neighbors lined up to
speak in favor of the plan. Not one person spoke in opposition.
That kind of support didn’t come easy.
It was the result of 18 months of close collaboration with a
city-appointed task force made up of representatives from neighborhoods surrounding Suffolk, including Beacon Hill, the West End,
the North End, Downtown Crossing and the Ladder District. Over
the course of about 20 task force meetings, the University heard
and addressed concerns, answered questions, and made modifications to the development projects and the master plan based on
input from task force members.
“This could not have been done without Mayor Menino’s and
the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s leadership and the painstakContinued on page 3

• Includes a goal of providing residential housing for 50 percent

of students in the next 10 years and 70 percent within 20 years

• Details future University needs, including a student center and
an athletic facility

• Was developed with a city-appointed task force made of up
of representatives from neighborhoods surrounding the



T h e S U N is pub l is h e d by:
Office of Public Affairs Executive Editor
73 Tremont Street
Greg Gatlin
Boston, MA 02108
Managing Editor
Nancy Kelleher

Staff Writers
Karen DeCilio
Tony Ferullo
Heather Clark

Key Master Plan Moments
March 1, 2007

June 30, 2007

City-appointed community task force
discusses Suffolk’s
priorities, recent
growth and transformation in the first of
about 20 meetings.

The University
reaches agreement
with the Millennium,
Parkside and Grandview condominium
complexes in support of 10 West.

Jan. 11, 2008
The University files an
Institutional Master Plan
Notification Form with the
Boston Redevelopment
Authority. It includes two
projects: the Modern Theatre
residence hall and the 20
Somerset academic building.

June 9, 2008

April 18, 2008
Institutional Master Plan is filed
with the BRA.

Beacon Hill Civic
Association board
votes overwhelmingly to approve a
landmark agreement with Suffolk

July 23, 2008
The city’s Zoning Commission
approves the
master plan.

June 26, 2007

Jan. 9, 2008

January 31, 2008

May 15, 2008

June 24, 2008

Public meeting is
held on 10 West St.
residence hall.

10 West opens.

Public meeting is held
regarding the University’s
forthcoming Institutional
Master Plan and the Modern Theatre.

Public hearing
held regarding the
Institutional Master
Plan and the Modern
Theatre proposal.

The Boston
Authority unanimously approves
the University’s
Institutional Master

July 24, 2008
Mayor Thomas M.
Menino signs the
master plan.

Continued from page 2

ing work of the community task force,’’
Nucci said. “Their contributions created a
better master plan as well as an example of
how the community process should work.”
Road map to the future

The Institutional Master Plan provides a road
map for future growth by identifying general
areas in downtown Boston—or “clusters”—
where the University could potentially expand. The idea is that
future development will be dispersed throughout the clusters, rather
than concentrated in a single area.
Gaining support from Suffolk’s neighbors, including those on
Beacon Hill, was seen as critical to moving the master plan and its
development projects forward.
In late spring, the University reached a landmark agreement with
the Beacon Hill Civic Association. That pact, hammered out through
a series of intense negotiations, broadens a non-expansion zone on
Beacon Hill. Suffolk agreed not to expand its footprint on the hill
and will not build dorms, an athletic center or a student center there.
Beyond the proposed academic building at 20 Somerset, the
University agreed not to add any more classroom or lab seats on
Beacon Hill. The College will shift 400 seats from the Temple Street
area to 20 Somerset, once that building opens.
The University set a goal of housing 70 percent of its students in
the next 20 years and agreed to cap its Boston campus enrollment
at the equivalent of 5,000 full-time undergraduate students over

the 10-year life of the master plan. Suffolk also will make its paid
Boston Police details and neighborhood response unit a permanent
part of its operation.
In turn, the Beacon Hill Civic Association agreed to support the
20 Somerset St. and Modern Theatre projects and agreed not to
oppose the 10-year Institutional Master Plan.
Public officials praised the agreement for protecting the interests
of Suffolk’s neighbors while allowing for sensitive and well-planned
“Universities and colleges are crucial to Boston’s economy and
prominence, but institutional expansion needs to be done in a way
that is in harmony with our great neighborhoods,” Menino said in
early June, when the pact was announced.
Meanwhile, the agreement already has eased friction between
the University and Beacon Hill neighbors. And it has been lauded
in newspaper editorials and elsewhere as a model for other expanding colleges and universities that face tensions with surrounding
Special Edition 2008


T h e S UN is publ is hed by:
Office of Public Affairs
73 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108



Executive Editor
Greg Gatlin
Managing Editor
Nancy Kelleher

Staff Writers
Karen DeCilio
Tony Ferullo
Heather Clark

Modern Theatre: A New Building with a Familiar Face


he renovation of the Modern

Theatre building will not only
create a 197-bed residence hall,
but it also will keep the spirit
of the old Modern Theatre alive with a
first-floor gallery and performance space
that can be used for functions, according
to Adrian LeBuffe of CBT, the architectural firm designing the new building.
The façade of the historic building will
be taken apart stone by stone and sent to
a masonry restoration expert before the
remainder of the structure is torn down.
When the residence hall/theater opens
in fall 2010, it will be a completely new
building with a fully restored face.
Architects worked with the University
to design a building that will meet students’
needs, be environmentally sustainable
and preserve the historic landmark.
The Modern Theatre was included
on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1979 as part of the Washington
Street Theatre District. In 1995 it was
designated a Boston Landmark.

Building history

In 1876, four years after the Great Boston
Fire destroyed the nearby business district, Architect Levi Newcomb designed
the building in the High Victorian Gothic
style. It housed showrooms and warehouse
space for the Dobson Brothers, the largest
carpet manufacturers in the United States.
In 1913, when motion pictures began
moving from makeshift nickelodeons
to theaters, the Dobson Building was
converted into the Modern, the first Boston
theater designed specifically to show films.
Admission was 15 cents, and musical
accompaniment was provided on an Estey
Organ designed specifically for use in the
theater. The Modern had the first of these
organs installed in the eastern United States.
Clarence Blackall was the architect for
the Modern Theatre conversion. His firm
also designed 13 other theaters in Boston,
including the surviving Colonial, Wilbur
and Metropolitan, now known as the Wang
Center for the Performing Arts. The firm
designed many other noteworthy buildings
in Boston, including the Tremont Temple.
In 1928, the Modern Theatre premiered
the first Boston showing of a “talkie”—The
Jazz Singer. It also introduced the double
feature in an effort to compete with newer

Modern Theatre as it appeared in 1915.

Modern Theatre will enliven Downtown Crossing.

theaters showing movies and vaudeville
The Modern was used as a theater
of some kind continuously until the
1980s, when it fell out of use. The
intervening years have taken their toll
on the structure, and the interior is now
considered beyond repair. But Suffolk has
stepped in to save the historic façade.

LeBuffe. “Deconstruction” of the rest of the
building will follow, probably beginning in
October and lasting as long as three months.
“By the first of the year we expect to have
an empty site,” said LeBuffe. Construction
of the new, 12-story building is projected to
take 20 months, with residence hall doors
opening to students in fall 2010. The façade
will be rebuilt in its original location, and,
after restoration, can be expected to last
another 100 years.
In addition to suite-style housing, the
building will feature a 184-seat theater that
can be converted from a classic proscenium
format to a flat-floor function room. It will
be used for performance, lectures, films and
receptions. The lobby space in front of the
theater will double as a gallery.
The building will be LEED certified.
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design, and
buildings that earn this certification employ

University steps in

“The University began looking at the
building as a result of suggestions from area
residents made during the University Master
Planning Process,” said Michael Feeley of
Government & Community Affairs
The building backs up to the new
residence hall at 10 West St. and is around
the block from the University’s first residence
hall at 150 Tremont St.
The Modern Theatre’s ornate façade
is cracking and will require significant

The building will feature a 184-seat theater that can be converted to a flat-floor function room. It will be used for performance,
lectures, films and receptions.
restoration work, according to LeBuffe.
The first three floors are constructed of
Vermont marble, and the four upper floors of
sandstone and brownstone.
“We’ll mark the back of each of the several
thousand stones as we remove them,” said

green design across all phases of design and
construction. The building will be sustainable not only in the materials and systems
used in construction, but also due to clean
and efficient operation when the building
comes into use. 
Special Edition 2008


A bird’s eye view of the new building that will house art studios and classroom space at 20 Somerset St.

20 Somerset to Present Lively and Quiet Sides


esigners of the proposed academic building and

art school at 20 Somerset Street faced the challenge of
bringing active, public uses to one side of the building
while respecting the sanctity and the serenity of the
neighboring Garden of Peace on the other side.
The result is an emerging vision for a building that features
two distinct approaches to two different facades, said Patrick
Tedesco, principal with Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, the renowned
architectural firm designing 20 Somerset. The building, now
in its design and permitting phase, will become home to
Suffolk’s New England School of Art & Design as well as
10 general-use classrooms for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Design is in its early stages and must still go through a comprehensive public review process with neighbors and city and state
The south façade looking out onto Roemer Plaza and the Sawyer
Building would feature an active lobby, art gallery and critique
spaces for NESAD students to display their work.



“The idea is, it’s a very vibrant façade that you can see into
from Sawyer,” Tedesco said. “It also helps enliven what will be an
improved Roemer Plaza.”
The plaza itself will be renovated with benches and landscaping,
offering students and the general public an attractive, sunny outdoor
space. The University also will use Roemer Plaza to commemorate
the venerable history of the Metropolitan District Commission,
whose headquarters were located in the now-abandoned building
for more than seven decades. That history includes the conservation
of thousands of acres of park land in and around Boston, including
Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace, the Charles River Esplanade, Castle
Island and many other sites.
On the opposite, north side of the building, architects envision
a quiet façade overlooking the Garden of Peace, the memorial that
commemorates victims of homicide. “It was an urban design goal to
respectfully try not to activate that side of the building,” said Tedesco.
The building will be no taller than the current abandoned MDC
building, so as not to cast additional shadows on the Garden of Peace.

Plans for 20 Somerset include an improved Roemer Plaza, offering an attractive outdoor space for students and the general public.

A statement from the Garden’s board, delivered June 24 to the Boston
Redevelopment Authority, described the planning process with
Suffolk as “one of transparency and collaboration.” The Garden had
opposed a previous proposal for a high-rise dorm at 20 Somerset St.
“This time around we absolutely felt informed and consulted,
especially regarding the design, as the building serves as a backdrop
for the Garden,” said Evelyn Tobin, who chairs the Garden’s board.
“We felt our concerns were not only heard but responded to in
terms of how the design has evolved.”
Art studios will be located on the north side of the building to
take advantage of indirect light, avoiding heavy shadows and glare.
But not all New England School of Art & Design students need
to work by natural light. Graphic designers, students working with
computer-assisted-design software and others will have space in
electronic studios at the core of the building, where natural light
won’t interfere with their work.
Classrooms on the ground floor and on two floors below grade
level will serve a significant portion of the undergraduate population. They will have about 40 seats and will be used by the College
of Arts and Sciences for general purposes.

The initial design for the façade facing Somerset Street features a
mixture of glass and masonry. Chan Krieger has designed an impressive feature for that façade: a larger, tiered classroom that will slope
down the side of the building along the grade of Somerset Street.
“We were very pleased conceptually with what they have come
up with,” said New England School of Art & Design Chairman Bill
Davis. “I know there’s a lot of work left, but at the schematic phase
the architects have managed to incorporate the vast majority of what
we were looking for.”
Davis said students will get the large, unobstructed studio space
needed for classical art, such as painting and drawing. In the art and
design school’s current location at 75 Arlington Street, larger rooms
have columns in the middle, making for less than ideal space.
Plans for 20 Somerset call for an art and design library and
gallery space that is larger than what the school has today, including
a secondary gallery. “That space will become not just NESAD space,
but clearly a central point for the University as a whole,” said Davis.
“It’s very exciting in that it will give us a permanent home,” he
added. “We haven’t had that in 15 years.” 

Special Edition 2008


Voices on Campus: What will be the impact of the Institutional Master Plan?

“I’m excited about the opportunities these changes bring for
the students, especially bringing
the art students to the main
campus, but also offering more
housing. We have students
coming from afar, and now
more of them can have the
advantage of living on campus.
Centralized services also are
helpful to students; one-stop
shopping is important given all
the demands on their time.”

“It’s been exciting to be on the
ground floor of the planning for the Modern Theatre
project. Suffolk will restore this
historic space, which will give
the University and the Theatre
Department more visibility in
the city. I’m particularly enthusiastic about the professional
performing arts organizations
we may be able to partner with
in this space.”

—Dean of Students
Ann Coyne

—Nora Long, Theatre
Department marketing &
special projects supervisor

“It will be great to have more
students able to live on campus
and experience our wonderful city. When students live in
residence halls we are better
able to ease their transition
from high school by providing
more structure; we can plant
the seeds of success. And the
Modern Theatre will give us
another space on campus for
our many students engaged in
the performing arts and other
campus programs.”
—Dave DeAngelis, director
of Student Activities

“NESAD will have the best of
both worlds at 20 Somerset
Street, retaining our small,
tight-knit community while
becoming better integrated
with the main campus. The
design and construction of the
art school’s new, state-of-the-art
facility takes into consideration
the environmental impact, and
it will be a much more vibrant
place for the arts than where we
are now.”
—Suzanne John,
director of Academic &
Instructional Services,


he approval of the Institutional Master Plan is a major achieve­

ment for the University. With a blueprint in place for sensible growth and
development, Suffolk can look forward to a very bright future in Boston.

Many pieces had to come together to reach this point. It could not have happened without the vision and leadership of President David J. Sargent. President
Sargent has been tireless in his efforts to provide the best academic setting and
facilities for our students.
Also critical was the leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston
Redevelopment Authority in bringing together neighbors and helping to align
their interests with the interests of the University.
Thanks also go to the tremendous Suffolk team in External Affairs, including
Mike Feeley, Elizabeth Leary and Kristyn O’Brien, as well as Gordon King in
Facilities Planning and Greg Gatlin and his team in Public Affairs. And thank
you to Alex Krieger and David Gamble of Chan Krieger Sieniewicz for the
consultation expertise they brought to the community planning process.
Finally, the Institutional Master Plan is a far better document because of the
many hours of work, creative ideas, dedication and encouragement provided by
the group of neighbors and stakeholders who make up the community task force.
Suffolk University is grateful for your efforts.

John Nucci

Vice President for External Affairs