Constuction halted on Harvard's Allston Science Comlex in December 2009. The vast construction site (above) is hidden from traffic, pedestrians, businesses, and resindets by a wall surrounding its entire perimeter.
Bioengineering, an academic unit of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is on the table to move to Allston, according to several University officials.
According to University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, the Harvard administrators are considering moving portions of bioengineering, a growing sector within SEAS, to its proposed Allston Science Center—which was originally conceptualized as a mecca for stem cell research—upon the site’s completion.
Garber said that University officials have yet to finalize academic planning for Allston.
“We’ll have more to say about our academic direction for the building in June, but among the groups that seem to be particularly promising fits for Allston are bioengineering and stem-cell research,” Garber said.
Kevin Casey, University associate vice president of public affairs and communications, said that Harvard is carefully considering its options for Allston development.
“For each area, the provost has been meeting extensively with faculty and deans to further develop the plans in each area, and with fundraising leadership to determine possible strategies for philanthropic support,” Casey wrote in an email. “This planning process is ongoing.”
SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray, who also serves as the area dean for bioengineering, declined to comment.
In 2007, the University released its Institutional Master Plan for Allston, which included the creation of a $1 billion science complex in Allston. in Allston. However, development on the Allston Science Complex was halted in 2009 when the financial crisis delivered a significant blow to the University endowment.
In 2011, the University resumed planning for Allston development, including the its science complex—now called the Allston Science Center.
The development of the Allston Science Center is just one piece of the two-phase plan for Allston construction released by University Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp.
The plan also includes revitalizing the Barry’s Corner area and site planning for the current Charlesview location.
Many Allston residents have expressed concern about the lack of clarity surrounding the University’s goals for the Allston Science Center, especially in conjunction with the University’s progress in selecting a developer for Barry’s Corner.
Task Force member and resident Brent C. Whelan ’73 also emphasized the importance of the University continuing to move forward.
“My point of view is what goes into the building is pretty much Harvard’s decision,” Whelan said.
“The community’s interest is very much that something happens and happens soon so that we’re not in this kind of static paralysis,” he added.
Casey addressed these concerns, but stressed that the University is determined to complete the building.
“In many of our conversations we’ve heard a considerable amount of frustration about the project delay and the uncertainty about what exactly will be housed in the facility once built,” he said. “That’s understandable.”
“I want it to be clear that this project is a high priority for Harvard, and the focus of considerable ongoing academiand financial planning,” Casey added.
The University has yet to specify a start or completion date for construction on the Allston Science Center, but Casey said that Harvard will release more details on planning in June.
—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at email@example.com.