The first phase of construction on Harvard’s Enterprise Research Campus (ERC), a nine-acre mixed-use development in Allston, was marked with a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 1.
Lifting the ceremonial shovel of dirt were Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Harvard President Claudine Gay, leaders from the Harvard Allston Task Force, the city of Boston, and developer Tishman Speyer.
“It is thrilling to be able to be at one more moment of history between the city of Boston and Harvard in a journey and a relationship that stretches back hundreds of years,” Wu told the crowd of 200 community members in attendance.
The new development will be located along Western Avenue, in proximity to Harvard’s Innovation Labs, Science and Engineering Complex, and Harvard Business School. It will include two laboratory buildings, a 343-unit rental apartment building, hotel, and more than two acres of community-oriented public outdoor space. It will also be home to the first University-wide conference center, the David Rubenstein Tree House, which will bring industry partners, visiting scholars, and guests from around the world to collaborate with faculty and students.
“As this new innovation corridor continues to emerge, we are fueled by some shared principles — harnessing creativity and invention for the benefit of the world, ensuring that opportunity is widespread, and importantly, celebrating Allston as a place for all,” said Gay. “Each element of the ERC is the result of deep engagement with the city of Boston and with this neighborhood. The open spaces, the affordable housing, the workforce opportunities that will go on to define this community will lay the foundation for a thriving future,” she continued.
Following an extensive community engagement process, in 2022 the first phase of the ERC was approved by Boston Planning and Development Agency. Among the noteworthy project offerings was designating 25 percent of the residential units affordable — the highest percentage ever for a market project in Boston.
“No stone was left unturned, and nothing was left on the table in coming together across two very important institutions to maximize the benefit to our communities,” said Wu. “We are so grateful for our partnership in building a Boston that is truly reflective and responsive to the priorities of our communities.”
“To the entire Harvard team who worked on this project, thank you for elevating the Harvard-Allston relationship to the next level — where mutual respect and trust are paramount, and a shared vision and responsibility is affirmed,” said Anthony D’Isidoro, president of the Allston Civic Association and a member of the Harvard Allston Task Force.
Tishman Speyer, the firm Harvard selected in 2019 to lead development of the ERC, is known for innovative approaches to architecture, place-making, sustainability, and healthy live-work environments, including Rockefeller Center in New York City. As its CEO, Rob Speyer, noted in his remarks, the firm is poised to create a similarly dynamic and vibrant space with the ERC.
“Great development, development of places that draw you back again and again, requires creativity, collaboration, and a true commitment to community, and those are exactly the elements that will make this place so special,” said Speyer.
Speyer noted the joint effort between Tishman Speyer and Harvard to create one of the largest inclusionary investor initiatives in Boston history for the project. The initiative brought more than 150 Black and Hispanic individuals and households into ownership of the ERC and as a group contributed more than $30 million of the project’s equity investment.
“This is one of the few transactions of this size and scale that’s happening anywhere in the country, and that’s not just due to the power and strength of Tishman and Harvard and the other institutions, it’s also because all of us and all of you came together to make this happen and that’s one of the reasons the financing is here to make this work,” said Arthur Jemison, chief of planning and director of the Boston Planning and Development Agency. “It’s the consensus that makes decisions happen and makes developments like this happen. As long as we keep creating it together, I have the highest hopes for what we can achieve.”