Campus & Community

Allston plans move ahead

5 min read

Students, faculty participate in Allston planning effort

Planning for Harvard’s future development in Allston is moving ahead on several fronts this fall. The planning firm Cooper, Robertson and Partners has begun its work, a series of faculty retreats are fleshing out recommendations involving the sciences, and Harvard continues to work with the city of Boston and with Allston in a community-based planning effort.

Harvard student representatives are also continuing their active participation in the planning process through the appointment of two undergraduates and two graduate students to the Master Planning Advisory Committee.

The committee brings together largely faculty who have been deeply involved in the process so far, through last spring’s four task forces or through the process of selecting Cooper, Robertson and Partners to ensure the next phase of Allston planning aligns with academic needs and priorities.

Student membership on the committee will ensure that their important perspective continues to be represented. Student input has been gathered in the past through a survey sent to all undergraduates and through participation on the Undergraduate Life Task Force.

“I’m glad that the administration has agreed to include students in this process because they have expert knowledge regarding what campus life is really like, and they are in the best position to know what future students will need and want out of Allston,” said Matthew Mahan ’05, who is helping coordinate the process of appointing student members to the committee.

The Allston planning team will also consult with other groups regularly as planning progresses, including advisory groups of alumni and other faculty members.

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The Master Planning Advisory Committee will meet throughout the academic year and will be an integral part of the current phase of Allston planning. The committee will consider the feasibility of the wide variety of ideas put forth by the Allston Task Force Reports last May.

Those reports examined four major areas, including science and technology, undergraduate life, professional schools, and the character of the new Allston development, including culture, housing, and transportation. The reports presented a wide range of options for future academic and physical planning.

The Master Planning Advisory Committee will help the University take the next step in its Allston undertaking by helping to consider sites for first phase projects and defining the scope of future planning efforts. No buildings will be designed in this phase of planning, which focuses on broader framework issues such as transportation and other infrastructure.

The committee’s appointment is just the latest of several developments as Harvard continues to move toward a comprehensive vision for Allston.

The Allston Science and Technology Task Force is holding a series of faculty retreats this fall to refine the scenarios presented last spring when the task force initially reported to the Harvard community.

The Cooper team, hired in June, is gathering information about Harvard’s academic aspirations from a variety of sources, including the Allston faculty task forces and the deans of Harvard’s various Schools and Faculties. The discussions will help Cooper create a broad planning framework, including initial street and block patterns, open spaces, building density and height recommendations, as well as potential program locations and transportation improvements.

In addition, the University announced last week a set of sustainability principles that will guide future development at Harvard, including work on Allston. The six principles are designed to ensure that Harvard’s new development is undertaken with an eye toward building on Harvard’s leadership role in this area and to make the University as environmentally friendly as practical.

The new University Sustainability Principles commit Harvard to increase energy efficiency and its use of renewable resources, to reduce waste, to support native species in campus ecosystems, to create planning tools that will allow practical assessment of environmentally friendly practices, to encourage environmental inquiry and learning across the University, and to establish indicators that will allow monitoring, assessment, and continued improvement of the University’s environmental practices.

For several years, Harvard has been engaged with the city of Boston and the North Allston community in the North Allston Neighborhood Strategic Plan, a community-based planning effort.

In the last several months, Boston, Harvard, and the community have developed the framework components of the plan. These include a vision, principles, a proposed land-use plan, and an implementation timeline.

The Master Planning Advisory Committee will build on the work of four faculty task forces on science and technology, professional schools, Allston life, and undergraduate life, appointed last fall to sharpen the planning hypotheses initially put forward by President Lawrence H. Summers.

Members of the 24-person committee include the chairs of the Allston task forces, nine faculty members from across the University, two undergraduate students and two graduate students (from the Graduate School of Education and the School of Public Health), and three administrators.

In addition to the Allston task force chairs, members include Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Design Alan Altshuler, Graduate School of Education Academic Dean Kathleen McCartney, former Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Jeremy Knowles, retired dean of the Princeton School of Architecture Bob Geddes, Vice President for Administration Sally Zeckhauser, and Harvard Medical School Dean for Research and Head of the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Edward Harlow.

The committee also includes Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences and Co-Chair of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Douglas Melton, Physics Professor Charles Marcus, Professor in Practice of Urban Design Alex Krieger, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health Dyann Wirth, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Studies Kay Shelemay, Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies and Director of the Charles Warren Center Lizabeth Cohen, and Partners Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Tom Glynn.