Harvard’s new Science and Engineering Complex in Allston.

Due to a temporary delay in construction work, Harvard’s new Science and Engineering Complex has rescheduled its opening.

Harvard University/OxBlue

Campus & Community

SEAS moves opening of Science and Engineering Complex to spring semester ’21

4 min read

Coronavirus safety stoppages push back debut of Allston building

Harvard’s new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) in Allston will move its fall opening to the spring semester, Dean Frank Doyle of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) announced Friday.

“Due to the temporary suspension of construction work by the city of Boston, and our collective response to the coronavirus public health emergency, the SEC will not be ready in time for a summertime move-in and fall opening as previously planned,” said Doyle. “The good news is that, following a nearly five-year construction process, once construction fully resumes the SEC will be just weeks away from being ready for occupancy.”

“The delay of the project is obviously disappointing, but helping to ensure the health and safety of everyone working at the site, as well as members of our community who would have moved this summer, must be our priority,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “When we do open the SEC, we will do so with the knowledge that we protected the people who built it and the people who will bring it to life with their phenomenal research and teaching. Our celebration will be all the sweeter for it, and I look forward to the day when we can be together to mark a great moment not just for the Harvard Paulson School and the University, but also for Allston and Greater Boston.”

Prior to the work stoppage ordered by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh last month, the building was almost finished. Original plans had called for work to be completed in May, and for a rolling move-in to begin in June.

“The delay of the project is obviously disappointing, but helping to ensure the health and safety of everyone working at the site, as well as members of our community who would have moved this summer, must be our priority.”

President Larry Bacow

“We’re incredibly close to the finish line,” said Joseph O’Farrell, managing director for capital projects for Campus Services. “Our teams are ready to get back to work as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”  

Assuming construction is allowed to resume this summer, the construction team hopes to finish up in a matter of weeks, and SEAS hopes to receive a green light to begin a coordinated move-in in the fall, and to begin classes in January.

SEAS and the campus planning team are working on a revised schedule of lab and office moves, classroom and course schedules, transportation, and dining services. SEAS administrators say affected groups will be contacted in the coming weeks to discuss changes.

SEAS labs, classrooms, and other spaces in Cambridge that were originally just a few months away from being vacated or consolidated will remain fully operational for the remainder of the calendar year.

“The work of our researchers and students in the SEC, together with that of entrepreneurial experts at Harvard Business School, in the innovation labs cluster, as well as in the future Enterprise Research Campus, will all help to ensure that Allston becomes a world-class hub for research, learning, and innovation,” said Katie Lapp, Harvard’s executive vice president. “The excitement for the potential opportunities that the move will create is profound, and I’m confident that this timing change won’t temper that excitement.”

The SEC postponement does not affect the ongoing conceptual development and due diligence for the Enterprise Research Campus or the American Repertory Theater’s move to Allston, both of which remain in planning and project development phases and have not been proposed for review. Those future proposals will be subject to normal regulatory and public and community review processes before construction begins.

Approximately half of the SEAS community eventually will make the move to Allston. That includes teaching and research labs for all of the Bioengineering, Computer Science, Robotics, and Applied Computation departments, as well as portions of the Electrical Engineering and Materials/Mechanical Engineering departments.

“During this time of unprecedented turmoil, we have all grown accustomed to abrupt changes,” Doyle said. “While the postponement is disheartening and will add new complexities to our planning, it is only a delay. When we eventually open the doors to the SEC, the entire Harvard community, our peers and colleagues, our neighbors, and our partners throughout the region will be able to realize the benefits of this state-of-the-art facility for teaching, learning, and research.”