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City Approval Given for New Library Offices

The final hurdle to constructing a four-story building for Harvard University Library administration at 90 Mt. Auburn St. has been cleared, after the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals approved the project last week.

The building will replace the storefront of the Harvard Provision Company and Skewers, a Middle Eastern restaurant, which both closed this spring. According to Sidney Verba ’53, director of Harvard University Library, the new building will be used by the Office of Information Systems, which runs the online Hollis library catalogue, and the Weissman Preservation Center, which helps repair and maintain the holdings of the university libraries.

The project had initially come under attack from Cambridge residents both for its architecture and for replacing retail space. The original design, by famous architect Hans Hollein, was rejected by the Cambridge Historical Commission in April 2001. The new design, by Boston firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates, “fits the space much better,” Verba said.

The new plan also includes a retail store on the ground floor. The loss of retail space had been one of the major sticking points with Cambridge activists.

“We got strong endorsement by the Harvard Square Defense Fund,” Verba says. “We have been working with them…and been very adaptable to their legitimate concerns.

Verba expects the building to be ready by spring 2005.

—RAFE H. KINSEY

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