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Science Center Plaza Renovation Moving Forward on Schedule

Science Center Construction
Tarik Adnan Moon

Students walk by renovation near the Science Center. Begun last May, construction on a new common space is currently ahead of schedule.

With the Science Center Plaza construction project approaching completion on schedule, Harvard officials are touting the space’s potential to become a bustling communal gathering area.

About eight months after construction began last May, workers have now completed many of the planned surface improvements outside the Science Center and opened additional pathways across the plaza, which is now almost fully paved with gray stone. Paver installation and trucking will continue throughout this month, according to the Harvard University Construction Mitigation website.

Most of the major construction work is expected to be finished by April in time for the annual Arts First festival, University spokesperson Lauren M. Marshall wrote in an emailed statement. Construction is expected to be completely wrapped up by the summer of 2013, a target date in accordance with the timeline that administrators previously laid out for the project.

The construction project, a partnership between Harvard and the City of Cambridge, is taking place alongside a city effort to make utility infrastructure improvements to the Cambridge Street tunnel’s roof and drainage system.

The University integrated the Science Center Plaza project into its Common Spaces initiative, aimed at further developing campus areas where members of the Harvard community can come together.

According to Marshall, “the goal of the Science Center Plaza project is to improve pedestrian and bike access and to create a space that is inviting, usable, flexible and a destination for both the campus community and our neighbors.”

Administrators ultimately intend to furnish the finished plaza with landscaped areas, tables, chairs, and modern wooden and stone benches.

Despite the ongoing construction, which created a hassle for some undergraduates hurrying to class last fall, students have already begun to enjoy the Science Center Plaza space.

This month, the Harvard Skate initiative brought a custom-made, 40-by-60-foot ice skating rink back to the Plaza for a second season.

Jenny Fung ’16, who works with Harvard Skate, said the rink drew an unexpectedly large crowd of community members, including faculty members and their children, who came to enjoy hot chocolate and a bonfire during Wintersession.

The rink, which provides on-site skate rentals and offers free access to all members of the community, is sponsored by Harvard’s Common Spaces program, Campus Services, and Harvard Student Agencies.

Lisa Hogarty—Vice President for Campus Services, which manages the plaza and other campus common spaces—heralded the Harvard Skate program as an example of things to come.

“Harvard Skate provides a great opportunity for the University community and our neighbors to come together,” Hogarty wrote in an emailed statement. “When the renovation of the Plaza is complete this spring, there will be many more events and activities, transforming the space.”

—Staff writer Antonio Coppola can be reached at acoppola@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: Jan. 30, 2013

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated and included a headline indicating that the Science Center Plaza construction project is progressing ahead of schedule. In fact, while most of the major construction work is expected to be wrapped up by April, the project is on schedule to be completely finished by its summer target date.

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