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Updated: April 18, 2024

Portland Historic Preservation Board greenlights plans for Roux campus

Courtesy / IDEALS A rendering of the proposed Northeastern University's Roux Institute campus, which would be developed by IDEALS.

The Portland Historic Preservation Board on Wednesday approved plans for the future home of Northeastern University’s Roux Institute, at the former B&M baked bean factory in the East Deering neighborhood. 

The board unanimously approved a certificate of appropriateness for the reuse of the factory building, a necessary step for the project to move forward. It will also require approval from the Portland Planning Board.

Members of the preservation board expressed excitement for the outcome.

"I would not interpret this quiet meeting as complacency," board member Brad Miller told the project architects, Boston-based Bruner/Cott. "I think it's really a reflection of how thorough and professional you've been in responding to this really difficult property. We were all very impressed with what you've brought forward."

The Roux Institute, a graduate and research center for computer engineering and life science, is making a significant move. Currently leasing space in downtown Portland from WEX Inc., the institute is planning to transform the historic B&M canning factory at 1 Bean Pot Circle into its dedicated headquarters. 

The Initiative for Digital Engineering and Life Sciences, an affiliated nonprofit that purchased the factory in 2022 from New Jersey-based B&G Foods Inc., plans to demolish the adjacent "codfish building" and pier to make way for a new public recreation space

The former main factory, dating back to 1913, will be renovated into office space. The project will also include new construction, a plaza and pathways. 

Since a March 6 workshop with the preservation board, IDEALS and Roux have modified the plans, adding details for windows, entrance treatments, mechanical screening, and further specifications on proposed masonry restoration. During the meeting, the board accepted six of the standards that were up for review. 

"Having participated in the past two workshops I want to thank the team for responding to the questions we've raised extremely thoroughly," said a board member last night. "I am very satisfied with the results."

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