Campus & Community

New task forces tap Harvard expertise to advance next phase of Allston planning

6 min read

Search under way for firm to envision physical plans

Faculty task forces with representation from across the University will help shape the next phase of planning for a future campus in Allston. The four task forces are charged with discussing, and ultimately sharpening, the preliminary academic framework outlined in President Lawrence H. Summers’ October letter to the Harvard community.

“Planning for Allston marks a historic opportunity for Harvard,” said Summers. “The imagination and expertise of people throughout the University community will be vital in shaping Harvard’s academic and physical future in Allston.”

The confirmed members of the task forces include approximately 40 Harvard faculty members, eight deans, and several administrators. They will explore in depth Allston planning assumptions in the following areas: science and technology; professional schools; culture, housing and the urban context; and undergraduate life.

Each task force will seek broad input from interested faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Members of the community can also share their thoughts and suggestions by emailing

The task forces for Allston academic planning

While the work of the science and technology task force is already under way, other task forces are scheduled to begin their efforts in January.

The task force on science and technology, chaired by Provost Steven Hyman, includes 12 members from the Faculties of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Medicine, Public Health, and Business. The committee will explore and recommend options regarding the nature of and timetable for the development of facilities to house a critical mass of innovative, scientific activity in Allston. Task force members will also explore ways in which scientific activity in Allston can complement and strengthen the science enterprise in Cambridge and Longwood.

The task force on professional schools, chaired by Harvard Business School Dean Kim Clark, will develop proposals and provide guidance for ways in which Allston can be used to promote productive collaboration between and among schools. Deans Barry Bloom and Ellen Condliffe Lagemann will serve on this task force and ensure that its efforts are coordinated with those of the School of Public Health and School of Education as they consider potential relocation to Allston.

Culture, housing, and the urban context will be explored by the Allston Life task force, a 16-member group chaired by Dennis Thompson, professor of political philosophy and chair of the University Physical Planning Committee. The group will examine ways the extended campus in Allston can take advantage of Harvard’s artistic and cultural resources. It will also explore options for housing graduate students and others. More generally, the committee will envision the ways in which Harvard’s Allston planning can contribute to a lively residential urban community. Subcommittees will assist the task force by focusing specifically on issues related to transportation, housing, and culture.

William Kirby, dean of FAS, will oversee the work of the task force on undergraduate life, whose co-chairs are William Graham, dean of the Divinity School, professor of Middle Eastern Studies, and former master of Currier House, and Robert Scalise, director of athletics. This group will think broadly about ways in which the long-term development of Allston might contribute to the quality of the Harvard College experience, and more specifically about the possibility of someday creating new undergraduate Houses in Allston (and related implications for the athletics complex).

President Summers, Provost Hyman, deans of the faculties, and other task force leaders will meet periodically to discuss progress and challenges, resolve concerns, and guide the process forward over the next few months. As this work progresses, additional groups, under the direction of Harvard’s vice presidents, will examine finances, fundraising, community relations, and communications.

Faculty task force recommendations to drive physical planning process

While the task forces explore academic priorities, the search is under way for a planning and design firm that will help translate this work into a coherent and imaginative vision for this first phase of planning. The selection process for the planning and design firm is directed by Vice President for Administration Sally Zeckhauser, with the help of a master planning working group, which includes three faculty, the Dean of the Harvard Business School, and the former dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton.

“We face an exciting challenge: to identify the team that will begin to give physical shape to our collective aspirations for Harvard’s future,” said Zeckhauser. “It is our goal to set the highest standards and select the single most outstanding, creative planning team to help our world-class institution evolve into an even greater University on both sides of the Charles.”

The working group launched the search last week with a letter from Zeckhauser seeking proposals from 26 planning and design firms. Names of firms were proposed by Harvard faculty and administrators, current and former deans of the nation’s leading graduate schools of design, and other outside experts. The working group will recommend finalists and a final selection will be made in the spring. Once the outside planning team is selected, the master planning group will expand to include the chairs of the various task forces to ensure that academic programs and priorities drive the physical planning.

The University will continue to work with representatives of the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and a task force of Allston neighborhood leaders and residents to identify shared guidelines for the sustainable development of Harvard’s Allston land. The conversations that have taken place over the past two years through the development of the North Allston Neighborhood Strategic Plan and the “Mayor’s Vision for Allston” unveiled this summer have been instrumental in helping shape the assumptions underlying the next phase of Harvard’s Allston planning. These conversations will continue as Harvard’s planning progresses.

Task forces and confirmed faculty membership

Science and Technology

Steven Hyman, chair; Victor Dzau, HMS; Alyssa Goodman, FAS; Edward Harlow, HMS; Marco Iansiti, HBS; Charles Marcus, FAS; Douglas Melton, FAS; Andrew Murray, FAS; Venkatesh Narayanamurti, FAS; Stuart Schreiber, FAS; Samuel Thier, HMS; Christopher Walsh, HMS; Dyann Wirth, SPH; Eric Buehrens, HMS, ex officio; Nancy Maull, FAS, ex officio

Professional Schools

Kim Clark, HBS, chair; Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, GSE; Barry Bloom, SPH; Arnold Epstein, SPH; David Gergen, KSG; Linda Hill, HBS; Elena Kagan, HLS; Rosabeth Moss Kanter, HBS; Robert Kegan, GSE; Howard Koh, SPH; Joseph Martin, HMS; Barbara McNeil, HMS; Joseph Nye, KSG

Allston Life: Culture, Housing and the Urban Context

Dennis Thompson, FAS/KSG, chair; Edward Glaeser, FAS, vice chair; George Baker, HBS; Joseph Bower, HBS, Peter Ellison, FAS; William Fash, FAS; José Gomez-Ibañez, GSD/KSG; Howell Jackson, HLS; Elena Kagan, HLS; Jerold Kayden, GSD; Thomas Kelly, FAS; Robert Kiely, FAS; Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, FAS; Thomas Lentz, FAS/HUAM; David Luberoff, KSG; Kay Shelemay, FAS; David Wilkins, HLS

Undergraduate Life (to be overseen by William Kirby, dean, FAS)

William Graham, HDS/FAS, and Robert Scalise, FAS, co-chairs; Lawrence Bobo, FAS; David Ellwood, KSG; Drew Faust, RIAS/FAS; James Kloppenberg, FAS; Jack Megan, FAS; Sandra Naddaff, FAS; Clayton Spencer, President’s Office; Jeffrey Wolcowitz, FAS, ex officio

Ad Hoc Master Planning Selection Committee

Sally Zeckhauser, vice president for administration, chair; Alan Altshuler, KSG/GSD; Kim Clark, HBS; Robert Geddes, former dean of Princeton School of Architecture; Jeremy Knowles, FAS; Alex Krieger, GSD; William Lacy, executive director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize