Three Sites Touted for New Houses in Allston

Athletic facilities, business school dorms, and area west of 1 Western Ave. among options for new Houses

Zain Khalid

A year after a faculty committee recommended that Harvard’s new campus in Allston include up to eight undergraduate Houses, at least three different Charles River sites—led by the current site of College athletic facilities­—are being considered for the Houses.

Five members of the University’s Allston Master Planning Advisory Committee (MPAC) said that the options for undergraduate houses across the river include building Houses where the athletic facilities currently sit between Soldiers Field Road and the Harvard Stadium, converting the Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Georgian-style riverfront housing into undergraduate residences, or constructing new Houses in the area between the 1 Western Ave. graduate housing complex and the HBS campus.

None of the committee members who identified the sites would allow their names to be used in this article, saying that the deliberations of the committee—which reviews plans for the Allston campus—are confidential.

Kathy Spiegelman, director of the Allston Initiative and chief University planner, would not comment on the specific locations that planners have proposed for undergraduate housing.

“All of the riverfront edge of Harvard’s property in Allston is being looked at,” she said. Spiegelman added that planners would most likely release a preliminary report in the next couple of weeks that would outline specific options for the new campus in Allston.

Professor in Practice of Urban Design Alex Krieger, a member of the MPAC, said that the report would include information on potential sites for science complexes and graduate school housing in Allston.

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“When we put out a progress report, we’ll be able to share with people the options,” Spiegelman said. “We definitely want to open up a conversation and discussion about the pros and cons of different options.”

TROUBLED WATERS

Construction at any of the three sites would face a number of potential hurdles.

The most frequently touted location for undergraduate housing—the area between the stadium and the river—would involve the relocation of several existing athletic buildings.

But Director of Athletics Robert L. Scalise, who is also a member of the MPAC, said that the potential benefit of new athletic facilities and proximity to undergraduates might outweigh the cost of having some athletic facilities move farther away from the river.

“We are trying to be good citizens,” he said. “Part of that is talking to our alums, faculty, and students....We’re open and we’re trying to do what is best for the University of the future.”

He added that the current athletic facilities do not take full advantage of their riverfront location.

“I could understand the point that there could actually be buildings that could take advantage of that view,” he said.

The flexibility of planners to construct on much of the land occupied by the athletic facilities and fields may be limited. Harvard Stadium is a national landmark, but Spiegelman said the designation does not prevent the University from altering it.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t do something with the building,” she said.