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Gorlov Turbines Installed on 888 Boylston

October 26, 2016

Last month there was a dedication ceremony at 888 Boylston, Boston’s most sustainable building, celebrating the installation of the late MIE Professor Alexander Gorlov’s helix-shaped wind turbines on top of the building.

"Professor Gorlov is an example of the kind of engineer and innovator that Northeastern strives for in its professors. We should all strive to have the type of impact on the field of engineering that Alex has had.  His invention, the Gorlov Helical Turbine, was envisioned in a series of more than 25 patents.  Beyond his patents though, was his shepherding of his idea from patent into reality.  His helical turbine has been installed around the globe, from where we are today, to Korea, to the Eiffel Tower. 

His design is remarkable for several reasons.  First, its impact on sustainability and the environment.  Alex’s design is remarkable for its energy efficiency, which converts 40% of the energy of the flow of wind or water into electricity.  This is as good as any turbine, and about twice as efficient as the average solar panel. 

In addition to its energy efficiency, the design also does not disrupt the ecosystem in which it is installed, allowing for example, the passage of fish in waters. 

Finally, his design is also remarkable for its elegance – the design makes it not just environmentally friendly but aesthetically and architecturally pleasing.  Again, these are all real-world considerations that take a technical solution and ultimately lead to its success.

Inventions such as the Gorlov turbine contribute greatly to creating a more sustainable, livable world for us and for generations to come. At the College of Engineering, we emphasize engineering for society, and this is a wonderful example of doing just that.

We cannot stress enough how important Dr. Gorlov’s work is to sustainability, and thankfully, the engineering community also recognized the incredible contribution these turbines have made to society. In 2001, Alex won the Amer­ican Society of Mechan­ical Engi­neers Thomas A. Edison Patent Award for the turbines, and it was named one of Pop­ular Science’s top inven­tions of the year.

Not only has Professor Gorlov made a major innovation in this field, but inventions such as this, that are featured prominently on major buildings and landmarks, also help to inspire the next generation of engineers to pursue research that can make a real impact on society.

We are so pleased to see companies like Boston Properties pursuing sustainability and green building in a very real way, and we are thrilled that one of our professors was able to contribute to this wonderful new building." - Dean Nadine Aubry

Source: NU Center for Research Innovation

And we celebrate….

Curiosity, inventiveness, forethought, sustainability, solutions, collaboration.

Furthermore, we celebrate people who commit their lives to bettering society.

Presently, we celebrate the engineering legacy of Northeastern’s Alexander Gorlov (1931-2016). A man who devoted his life to discovering solutions that maximized energy, minimized loss, and exemplified beauty.


On September 30th, the CRI attended a dedication ceremony at 888 Boylston, Boston’s newest sustainable architectural marvel, celebrating the instillation of Gorlov’s helix-shaped wind turbines that now gracefully swirl atop the glistening structure.

Held on the balcony of the penthouse with mesmerizing views and blustery winds, the ceremony hosted by Boston Properties and attended by city officials, Northeastern leadership, and the Gorlov family was a touching testament to an innovator who engineered decades ahead of his time.

Following the ceremony, guests were led through a service corridor and onto a roof proffering exceptional views of the artful turbines. One of the most striking elements of the experience: silence. The wind whipping between the towering buildings generated more sound.

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The nature-mimicking helical design of the turbine not only reduces noise, but also mechanical stress while bolstering energy production upwards of 35%, features that earned Gorlov the Thomas A. Edison Patent Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2001.

Watch this brief video wherein Alexander Gorlov narrates the possibilities of the helical turbine.

In addition to the Boston Skyline, Gorlov’s multifunctional turbines elegantly light the Eiffel Tower and hydro-electrically power the South Korean countryside and parts of Coastal Maine.

The supreme combination of functionality and aesthetics will not only power 888 Boylston, but will also provide Bostonians and all who visit the city with engineered allure for decades to come.

Thank you, Alexander Gorlov.