UC, Administrators Meet on Allston Plan

Five University officials clustered by the door to the new Harvard in Allston display room in the Holyoke Center.

It was past 4 p.m. last Thursday, and still no students had arrived for a brainstorming session organized for the Undergraduate Council (UC) by Allston planners.

“A real undergraduate?” Graduate School of Design professor Alex Krieger asked hopefully as a student entered the room.

Krieger, a professor in practice of urban design, is co-founder of Chan Krieger & Associates, the firm charged with developing a program for the non-academic components of Harvard’s new campus across the Charles River.

He encouraged the three members of the UC who ultimately attended the meeting to think creatively, but the conversation remained focused on the desire for a student center.

According to Chief University Planner Kathy Spiegelman, Harvard is considering constructing two student centers­—one in Allston, possibly at the Dillon Field House, and one in the current Malkin Athletic Center building on the Cambridge side of the river.

“A centralized student center would definitely be optimal,” said Winthrop House representative Blake M. Kurisu ’07.

Pamela C. Chan ’07 of Pforzheimer said having student services in one place was important.

“Harvard students don’t have a lot of time, so any way that you can make this more convenient for them, they will use,” she said.

Student representatives are the latest constituency being solicited for feedback as Harvard planners prepare to release an institutional master plan of the new campus to the City of Boston this spring.

Krieger said the Allston land will be divided between undergraduate and graduate students and academic and non-academic uses.

“There’s a kind of vying for these sites which leads to a certain understandable anxiety about who’s going to get them,” Krieger said. “It’s taking a while to figure out who or by what process that decision should be made.”

It was the second time in a week that UC representatives were able to talk to planners about what they wanted in Allston.

On Wednesday, UC members were invited to tour the Harvard in Allston room with Spiegelman.

Only three representatives attended, including Kurisu and Kirkland representative Jacki Chou ’07, who were also present at Thursday’s session.

At the Wednesday meeting, Spiegelman acknowledged that it has been hard to gauge undergraduate desires.

“It’s been really hard to get undergraduates to come, but we keep trying,” she said, adding that it was difficult because students had incompatible schedules and the timetable for the first phase of Allston construction is at least five years away.

“Obviously what we’re doing now [to attract undergraduates] is not achieving what we’d like it to,” she said.

On Thursday, Krieger also asked students how they envisioned the architecture of the new campus.

Frank Gehry, known for his abstract architecture, is one of the planners consulting on the new campus.

A graphic of a new undergraduate House at the Harvard in Allston room shows a set of Matheresque blocks in a circle, labeled as a “residential village.”

Students were not enthusiastic about that possibility, noting that different styles might make students feel isolated on the other side of the river.

“Even by just changing the look of the two campuses, you reinforce that division,” Chan said.

Planners also held a tour for UC members earlier in November, and they said they will continue to solicit student feedback. University spokeswoman Lauren Marshall wrote in an e-mail that students can arrange tours of the Harvard in Allston room if they call the Allston Initiative at (617) 495-3525.

—Staff writer Natalie I. Sherman can be reached at nsherman@fas.harvard.edu. —Staff writer Joseph M. Tartakoff can be reached at tartakof@fas.harvard.edu.