Residents Fear Construction Halt

Construction crews at the Allston Science Complex have dismantled the site’s iconic red cranes and begun to pour ground-level concrete—steps that the University says are part of normal phase one construction, but that some residents say are indicative of a veiled intent to cap the project.

The confusion comes half a year after Harvard announced that financial constraints were forcing it to slow construction of the much-anticipated Science Complex, which was intended to house the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and be a hub for interdisciplinary research. At the time, Harvard decided to halt procurement of materials for future construction and potentially reduce the number of workers on site. University officials have said they will make a decision about whether to proceed with the project in December.

At a Construction Management Sub-Committee meeting Wednesday evening, local resident Joyce Radnor said that some neighbors have become concerned that the pouring of concrete is a signal that Harvard has decided to stop construction. Construction mitigation manager Edward G. LeFlore emphasized that University President Drew G. Faust has not yet decided the fate of the project and promised that he will promptly convey such information to the community when he is notified.

“There are no mysterious things going on,” said LeFlore, who added that none of the work has deviated from the initial plan and that the concrete slab is a necessary component of the Complex’s foundation.

Philip Coleman, the Turner construction manager for the site, said that 4 or 5 concrete pourings have been completed thus far, and that roughly 15 loads remain. The final concrete slab covering most of the site will be roughly 12 inches thick and will be coated with waterproofing material. LeFlore said that the large red cranes had been dismantled in the summer, but smaller, mobile cranes will continue to be used on site.

But Harry Mattison, a member of the Harvard Allston Task Force, said that he did not believe the University was being forthright with its construction plans.

“The word ‘stopped’ isn’t in Harvard’s vocabulary,” Mattison said. “They use all this funny jargon to describe what is happening.”

—Staff writer Michelle L. Quach can be reached at mquach@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at pzhu@fas.harvard.edu.