Harvard Plans to Beautify Allston Construction Site

Harvard unveiled its plans to beautify the perimeter of the construction site that was slated for the Allston Science Complex at a meeting of the Harvard Construction Management Sub-Committee last night.

The landscape design, which the University hopes to complete by the end of June 2010, is intended to give the site a “more aesthetic” look, according to James Royce, a Stephen Stimson Associates landscape architect hired by Harvard for the project.

The landscaping plan—which comes in the wake of the December announcement of the indefinite pause in construction on the $1 billion Science Complex—is intended to address community concerns regarding the unattractiveness of the construction site, which residents believe may lie empty for at least a decade.

“We just don’t want the neighborhood to look neo-correctional,” said Allston resident Joyce Radnor.

The proposal—the result of the Allston Development Group’s collaboration with the Boston Redevelopment Association—consists of removing the current scaffolding around the perimeter of the construction site and replacing it with a more permanent wood fence. The site would be surrounded by native perennial plants such as winterberry and red twig dogwood, in addition to river birches and red maples.

The project also includes the creation of more parking space to accommodate the new tenants that Harvard hopes to bring to its vacant properties in the neighborhood, addressing a concern Allston residents have had about the availability of parking after learning the University’s plans to fill its empty real estate holdings.

While the residents present at the meeting were pleased with the plan, they continue to be concerned about how long the moratorium on construction will last.

Resident Paul “Chip” Alford questioned the use of the word “pause,” which has been employed by the University throughout discussion of the halt in the Science Complex’s construction.

“Isn’t it a little disingenuous?” he said, referencing rumors that the University would not move forward with construction on the Science Complex for at least 10 years. “It’s an abandonment of the project.”

But Director of Community Relations Kevin A. McCluskey ’76 defended the use of the word “pause.”

“It gives an indication that we are continuing to work on exploring our options to have construction resume on that site,” McCluskey said.

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

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