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Franklin Cummings Tech’s new campus breaks ground

New location brings hope for boon to Nubian Square

Mandile Mpofu
Franklin Cummings Tech’s new campus breaks ground
Mayor Michelle Wu joins the Franklin Cummings community for a groundbreaking ceremony of its multi-story facility that will feature an advanced manufacturing center, rooftop learning lab, ground-level automotive shop and a walk-in optical shop. PHOTO: ISABEL LEON, MAYOR’S OFFICE

Stakeholders, supporters and neighbors gathered last Tuesday morning, enjoying refreshments and conversation on an empty lot of land that will soon be home to the new Franklin Cummings Tech campus. The groundbreaking at 1011 Harrison Ave. drew a sizeable crowd and featured speeches by a Who’s Who of local business leaders and elected officials, many of whom highlighted the opportunity the campus will bring to Nubian Square.

“We are the center of Boston, geographically, culturally, educationally,” said Aisha Francis, president of Franklin Cummings Tech. “And from this perch, we will continue to invest in 21st-century education and learning. We are so proud to be doing that in this neighborhood by choice and on purpose.”

Signage at the perimeter of the construction site. Designed by women-owned architecture firms Studio G Architects and Studio ENEE, the environmentally friendly
68,000-square-foot building will feature three electric-powered stories and a renewable energy rooftop learning space. PHOTO: ISABEL LEON, MAYOR’S OFFICE

A 116-year-old institution, Franklin Cummings Tech was funded in part through a bequest from founding father Benjamin Franklin, whose will stipulated that the funds be used for the advancement of young people in Boston. The school offers technical and trade education to a body of about 1,000 students composed primarily of people of color. The school has undergone notable changes in its over 100 years of existence, including a rebrand in 2023 and now, a move from the South End to Roxbury, expected to be completed in 2025.

Many Franklin Cummings Tech students are from the Nubian Square area, Francis said. The new campus would put the institution in closer proximity to those it serves and bring “energy and investment to a part of Nubian Square, where there was previously blight.”

Designed by women-owned architecture firms Studio G Architects and Studio ENEE, the environmentally friendly, the environmentally friendly 68,000-square-foot building will feature three electric-powered stories and a renewable energy rooftop learning space. The project was funded by private and public partners including the City of Boston through the Boston Planning and Development Agency, MassWorks and The Boston Foundation.

The new campus, over five years in the making, offers an opportunity for Franklin Cummings Tech to continue its work of offering innovative bachelor’s degree programming in a technologically advanced space that is “befitting of our students and that they can take pride in,” Francis said. She and other constituents see the campus as an investment not only in education but also in the surrounding neighborhood.

“We are grounded in Nubian Square. And for us, this is a source of pride,” she said. “We are able to make more than a $40 million investment here because people have believed in us and our mission and what we are doing, and they understand that those investments will have a wonderful return on civic capital.”

Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Franklin Cummings Tech campus. PHOTO: ISABEL LEON, MAYOR’S OFFICE

In her remarks, Mayor Michelle Wu highlighted “the foundational importance of this institution to our city’s history, but especially to our city’s future,” adding that the groundbreaking was a symbol of the city’s mission to accelerate economic opportunity and generate wealth in Nubian Square.

“It’s absolutely fitting and exactly what we need for our future that the brand-new, state-of-the-art campus for the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology will be at home in this neighborhood,” she said. “It’s long been a priority of the city of Boston and certainly of our administration and our partners to not just preserve the community and residents who live in this area [and] the businesses that give Boston its life, but to grow support [to] ensure that we’re investing in sustainability.”

Richard Taylor of Nubian Ascends said the new building will connect young professionals to the industry in a way that will tackle income inequality.

“I think what this does in a very tangible way is finally connect Nubian Square’s young people, the next generation of professionals, to the life science biotechnology industry,” he said.

Also in attendance at the groundbreaking were Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, City Council President Ruthzee Louijeune, and CEO of MassDevelopment Dan Rivera, all of whom lauded Francis for her leadership and celebrated the monumental step in Franklin Cummings Tech’s future.

Harry Rodriguez, a recent Franklin Cummings Tech alumnus, said his time at the institution gave him tangible experience in the construction industry that he now uses today. Rodriguez is working as a project engineer with Dellbrook, the contractor for the 18-month construction project.

“It’s a great accomplishment not only for me just to work in being a part of this new campus,” he said. “But just seeing the campus expand from attending the small campus on Berkeley [Street]…to now being a part of seeing a new campus being made for the school I came from and just seeing everything being upgraded.”

Franklin Cummings Tech, nubian square