On January 19, 2023, faculty and staff of the Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard gathered in Kendall Square, Cambridge to celebrate a significant milestone — the “topping off” of their new building.
The team watched as the highest beam was lifted into place, signifying the completion of the structural phase of the project — often thought to be the most dangerous part of construction. As part of the ceremony, a small fir tree was placed on the beam — a tradition in the construction trade that dates back centuries. Participants also had a chance to sign the beam before it was raised.
“It is exhilarating to see the building taking shape,” said Ragon Institute Director Bruce Walker, MD. “This will be a palace for pandemic preparedness and allow us to expand our vision to harness the immune system to prevent and cure diseases.” Although established with a special focus on HIV, in recent years the Ragon Institute has expanded into other areas, including malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, COVID-19 as well as cancer and autoimmunity.
According to Dr. Walker, the new building — which was made possible through the generosity of namesake donors Terry and Susan Ragon — will better enable Institute scientists to make a lasting impact on diseases of global importance. At 307,000 sq. ft., the new space will provide more than double the square footage of the Institute’s current space in Technology Square, Cambridge — allowing for more lab benches and offices, teaching facilities and one of the largest biosafety containment facilities in the Northeast.
“More space means we can add more faculty, fully integrate AI into our research and safely expand our programs to define how the immune system functions and dysfunctions,” Dr. Walker said. Additional highlights of the building include an open, functional design to promote collaboration, publicly accessible open spaces at street level and an in-house daycare center to support parents on staff. The new Ragon Institute building is expected to open in the spring of 2024.
“As exciting as this building is, for me, what’s more exciting is the opportunity to know the people in this room and observe what it is you’re doing,” said Institute benefactor Terry Ragon during the ceremony. “There are very few people in the world who have the opportunity to change the world for the better, but I think the people in this room have that opportunity, and I believe you will.”
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