Business School Announces Construction Projects in Allston

Harvard Business School announced yesterday that it will embark on two major construction projects in Allston—a new executive education building on the school’s campus and a Harvard Innovation Lab in a University-owned property on Western Avenue.

The executive education building will cost between $90 to $100 million, according to HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. The building will be financed by a $50-million gift from Tata Trusts and Companies—philanthropic entities of India’s Tata Group, a conglomerate with a combined market capitalization of $80 billion.

The gift is the largest from an international donor in the Business School’s history.

The executive education building, which will be named Tata Hall, will be used for a combination of academic and residential purposes. Construction is slated to begin next spring and the building will likely open for use in the fall of 2013, according to Nohria.

Ratan Tata, the Chairman of Tata Sons Ltd., attended the HBS School of Advanced Management Program, an executive education program, in 1975.

In addition to the new executive education building, HBS announced that it will renovate the old WGBH building on Western Avenue to open a lab for innovation and entrepreneurship.

HBS Professor Peter Tufano, who is also one of the the Allston Work Team’s co-chairs, drafted the original proposal for the project. Tufano said in a press release that the lab is a way of unifying the University.

“Student entrepreneurs don’t respect academic silos, but nevertheless often found it hard to connect across school boundaries,” Tufano said. “If we could find ways to facilitate those interactions, bringing them together in an environment that stimulates the sharing of ingenuity, knowledge, and skills, innovation and creativity could flourish. The potential of a unified Harvard could partially be realized.”

The price tag on the renovation is between $15 to $20 million, and the

project will begin in the spring, according to Nohria. But he noted that the time line is an “aggressive” goal, and that it is still subject to approval by the City of Boston.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino praised HBS’ intentions to develop in Allston as a sign that the University plans to continue to revitalize the neighborhood through construction projects, despite last December’s halt on construction on the Harvard Allston Science Complex.

“For the Allston community, the Harvard Innovation Lab is a sign of this university’s commitment to reactivating Western Avenue,” Menino said. “The old WGBH building has sat vacant. This project will help bring vitality to that area. We all know there’s a lot more work to do, but this is an important step in the right direction.”

Menino added that both construction projects will stimulate the local economy.

“The two projects that Harvard has announced today are significant in their own ways, but together they highlight a continued drive to invest in Boston,” Menino said. “We surely have a way to go in terms of recovery from the recession ... but projects like this keep that positive momentum going. In a slow economy, the Business School’s new executive education building will generate construction jobs and permanent jobs once the project is done.”

But some Allston residents remain skeptical of the anticipated benefits for their community.

“We’d like to have a discussion with the Dean to understand his vision for Western Avenue,” Mattison said.

An Allston-Brighton Task Force meeting to discuss HBS’ construction plans and Allston Work Team updates is scheduled for Nov. 3.

—Staff writer Sofia E. Groopman can be reached at segroopm@fas.harvard.edu.

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