Northeastern University Tribute Portal

Merit Award

The Bernard M. Gordon Tribute to Engineering Leadership is an interactive archway located in the center of the Northeastern University campus in Boston. Selbert Perkins Design, in collaboration with Richard Lewis Media Group, Pressley Landscape Architecture, and Northeastern University, designed the portal to honor 11 groundbreaking engineers who revolutionized aerospace engineering, computer technology, and communications.

Gordon created the first analog/digital interface, and the tribute portal’s dynamic elements express the transformation of analog to digital technology. Standing 13 feet tall outside the university’s Snell Engineering Center, the portal invites visitors and students to enter its arch. With two glowing LCD screens and bright LEDs that cover the inside of the portal with media designed by RLMG, the portal serves as a canvas for images, video and animated text that play on the LCD screens while complementary graphics surround the visitor on the LED screens.

Designed and built to withstand the unforgiving Northeastern weather, the portal is housed in an aircraft-grade aluminum exoskeleton and is controlled by an intelligent internal cooling system whose remote fans can exchange the volume of air within the portal once every three seconds, saving the electronics from meltdown in summer heat. Both the stories and construction aim to inspire viewers to pursue an education in science, technology, and engineering.

Jury Comments: 

“The Portal creates a truly interactive space, a joyful reconciliation between digital and analog technologies. And it gives pedestrians the choice of either relating to it or ignoring it.”

“An elegant integration of digital media in exterior public space that draws engagement through curiosity. With digital information faced inward, this portal provides a choice to engage or not with the dynamic content. This illustrates thoughtful restraint of digital display in the environment. I would walk this way.”

"So much of digital in the environment is just pollution and noise. This is clever, meaningful, and more bold than all that other dirt." 

Design Firms: 

Selbert Perkins Design

Client: 

Northeastern University

Location City: 

Boston

Project Area: 

400 sq ft

Open Date: 

March 2012

Project Budget: 

$225,000

Photo Credits: 

Anton Grassl ©2012

Design Team: 

Clifford Selbert (partner-in-charge), John Seeley (principal)

Consultants: 

Richard Lewis Media Group (media design), Pressley Associates (landscape architect)

Fabricators: 

Design Communications Ltd.

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