Work Team Recommends Rethinking of Harvard's Allston Expansion

Recommendations suggest that the University partner with private sector to fund development

Updated at 5:50 p.m. on 6/16/2011.

A set of highly anticipated guidelines from an advisory group has recommended that Harvard pursue an aggressive strategy of development in Allston, focusing on developing a commercially oriented research park, expanding faculty and graduate housing, and constructing a redesigned Science Complex.

Construction on much of Harvard’s Allston development was halted in 2009 amid budgetary concerns, but the recommendations released Wednesday by the the Harvard Allston Work Team—a 14-person group of deans, alumni, and faculty members—do not make clear where funding for the construction plans outlined in the recommendations will come from.


“Allston is integral to Harvard’s future, and these ideals both affirm previous planning principles and inject fresh thinking, particularly in their focus on innovation and on private sector partnerships for near term development,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a press release.

The Work Team’s central recommendations are that Harvard resume the development of a science center on the existing Western Avenue site, create an enterprise research campus in Allston Landing North, engage third party developers to construct housing complexes for graduate students and faculty in Barry’s Corner, develop plans for the land currently housing the Charlesview Apartments, and explore the possibility of constructing a hotel and conference center on Western Avenue.

The recommendations suggest that Harvard will retool its financing strategy for its Allston developments. If implemented, the recommendations would set up several sources of income for the University that may be used to bankroll the real estate developments in the neighborhood. The work team recommendations suggest that the University develop, for example, a hotel and private sector office and lab space, two developments that may help Harvard defray costs.

The report suggested that the upcoming capital campaign would also provide funding for this project and called the campaign “a unique opportunity to facilitate and support development of this site.” It also urges Harvard to consider the “programmatic needs” of the School of Public Health, which currently lacks office and teaching space to meet demand.

The School has leased nearby property in order to meet its space needs, but those moves have been seen as stop gaps measures and are unlikely to be viable as a long-term solution.