Faust Says Allston Complex Will Be A Capital Campaign Focus

University President Drew G. Faust said that building Harvard’s long-delayed Science Center in Allston will be a focal point of the University’s imminent capital campaign.

“For the health and life sciences building, we will be making it a campaign priority,” Faust said about the Allston Health and Life Science Center, which the University started building but abruptly stopped during the 2009 economic downturn.

The capital campaign, currently in a period called a “quiet phase” in which the University gathers contributions from major donors, is expected to launch publicly next year with a goal of raising at least $6 billion—which would make it the largest ever run by a university.

Faust said that Harvard is mulling methods of financing the Allston science complex. “We’re just working on trying to balance those things out,” she said of the potential options for funding the building.

Faust said earlier that a campus wide student-center, tentatively envisioned in the location of the current Holyoke Center, would also be a priority of the campaign.

Currently, the location of the Allston Science Center is an empty, fenced-off construction site, a remnant of the University’s initial push for Allston development in 2007. During that year, the University filed its first Institutional Master Plan for Allston development, which called for substantial renovations and construction across Harvard’s Allston properties. The plan included the creation of a cultural center in the Barry’s Corner area at the intersection of Western Ave. and North Harvard St. and the construction of a $1 billion science center, which officials imagined as a mecca for stem-cell research.

University development in Allston came to an abrupt halt, however, due to Harvard’s financial problems in 2009. The construction machinery stopped working, leaving a gaping hole where the Science Center was supposed to stand and multiple vacant properties throughout Allston. Harvard’s decision to cease construction sparked tension with many members of the community, who felt Harvard had betrayed them by not fulfilling its promise to develop Allston.

In 2011, the University announced that it would resume planning for Allston development.

Harvard Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp said then that the Science Center would represent Harvard’s single largest investment ever made into a science facility. In June, the University announced that stem-cell research and bioengineering would be two departments moving into the new Science Center.

At the time, Harvard Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Kevin Casey said that the Center would be between 500,000 and 600,000 square feet, with room for 500 scientists in addition to support staff.

—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at mcook@college.harvard.edu.

Tags