Harvard Prof To Design City?

Recent media speculation surrounding Professor in Practice of Urban Design Alex Krieger’s placement on a long list of candidates to lead the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) has people on both sides of the river concerned about the University’s role in Allston development.

The director of the BRA—the agency that oversees the city’s construction and renewal projects—retired last month after nearly eight years serving the city in that capacity. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is planning to appoint a new leader to replace the current acting director.

The Mayor’s office declined requests for comment.

In mid-January, the University unveiled an institutional master plan for Allston that forecasts development as far into the future as 2057. If Krieger were to assume the role of BRA director, a Harvard-affiliate would have influence over the city of Boston’s plan for the Allston campus as well as its own.

Currently, Krieger serves on the Design Review Committee for the Allston art museum and science complex projects. He also has served on the committee that selected the architectural firm to design the latter.

“I would think that would be a very significant conflict of interest,” Allston resident and self-described community activist Tim McHale said in a phone interview yesterday.

Last week, a Boston Herald article reported that Krieger, who is also professor of Literature and Arts B-20: “Designing the American City,” was being considered by insiders as a top candidate to fill the role.

But while the Harvard professor’s name is rumored to be on the lips of City Hall employees, Krieger himself said he is unclear where the speculation has sprung from.

“I don’t believe I’m an actual candidate,” he said. “Now, [why] would I want to be a candidate? I have my hands full.”

While some said the possibility of a Harvard insider heading up the BRA was problematic, others said they believed the new director will not be inappropriately swayed by his other affiliations.

“I’m sure that whoever becomes the next director will put the interest of the city and the neighborhood first, regardless of where that person previously might have worked,” said Harvard-Allston Task Force member Harry Mattison. “I think Harvard development in Allston is too important to the city and too important to this neighborhood...for anyone to let personal relationships get in the way of doing what is in the best interest of the city.”

—Staff writer Laura A. Moore can be reached at lamoore@fas.harvard.edu.