Most companies celebrate the completion of office buildings with a buffet lunch and congratulatory speeches from politicians who expound on the importance of private sector job creation.
EF Education First is taking a different approach at its new Cambridge headquarters this week. The for-profit education company has quietly erected the country’s second-largest portable Ferris wheel in NorthPoint Park and is inviting the public to ride it for free.
“We want to do something fun for the community and bring people together in this area,” said Martha Doyle, chief administration officer for the company, which offers academic classes and travel programs around the world. “We have the most incredible views from our new building.”
The 120-foot Ferris wheel will only be operating for a short time. It will turn from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. There will also be music and food trucks on the property. But by noon Friday, the flash carnival will be gone.
The event is a celebration of EF Education First’s new 10-story office building overlooking the Zakim Bridge. The exterior of the glass mid-rise is nearly finished and within months it will house hundreds of new employees. Doyle said the company also wants its employees to ride the Ferris wheel to get a sense of their new vantage point on Boston and Cambridge.
The area’s skyline is rapidly changing with the development of towering residential buildings, offices, and hotels. It is also getting several new public parks, waterfront walkways, stores, and restaurants.
At NorthPoint Cambridge, HYM Investment Group LLC has started construction of a 19-story apartment tower that is planned to be the first of many new buildings on the property. The $2 billion project, which would take many years to complete, includes 2,900 homes, 2 million square feet of laboratory and office space, and a new plaza with shops, restaurants, and possibly a supermarket.
Meanwhile, several developers are constructing new complexes around North Station in Boston. Related Beal is building a new world headquarters for Converse Inc. at Lovejoy Wharf, along with 100 residences and a public park on the Charles River.
Another developer, Simpson Housing, is nearing completion of an apartment building overlooking the Zakim Bridge. And Boston Properties and Delaware North Cos. are seeking approval for a 600-foot complex of new homes, stores, offices, and hotel rooms in front of the TD Garden.
The $125 million EF Education First building was among the first projects to kick-start redevelopment of the area following the economic downturn. Upon its completion in spring 2014, the company plans to hire another 300 employees, bringing its Cambridge head count to 1,100. The building will also include a new restaurant along NorthPoint Park.
EF Education First, started in Sweden in 1965, offers high school, college, and graduate degree programs. It also has several language and educational travel programs for people of all ages. It now employs 35,500 people in 460 offices and schools around the world.