Lacking Space, SEAS Plans Allston Expansion

As the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences awaits its planned move across the river to Allston, the school is in search of short term solutions to immediate problems created by a lack of space.

In anticipation of Tuesday’s announcement, last month SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray appointed a space steering committee to inform decisions about the school’s long-term space needs.

The committee will meet with architectural consultants to provide input on the design process of SEAS’s Allston presence, said former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68—one of the co-chairs of the committee. The new campus will eventually be located in Harvard’s science complex, construction on which is slated to resume in 2014 and should be completed in late 2017 or early 2018.

Murray has also tasked the committee with investigating short-term solutions to SEAS’ space needs while it awaits the completion of its Allston facilities. Beginning in March and continuing into the summer, SEAS will relocate several of its administrative offices to a temporary space at 20 University Rd. in Harvard Square, referred to by Executive Dean G. Timothy Bowman as “SEAS South.”

Bowman wrote in an email to The Crimson that the move will serve as a short-term “Band Aid” solution for the school’s immediate space needs.

“Moving these offices to 20 University Road will free up some space, addressing our pressing need to accommodate existing research and provide modern, studio-style classrooms and teaching labs right away for our undergraduate courses,” Bowman wrote.

The temporary location will house the staff of SEAS’s finance, research administration, human resources, communications, and development offices.

Lewis said the creation of SEAS South demonstrates the current crunch on space resources felt by the school.

“It’s evidence for why the big move [to Allston] is happening,” Lewis said. “In order to make room for faculty growth and so on, they have to free up some office space around here.”

Professor David A. Weitz, the other co-chair of the committee, said he felt a sense of urgency because of the space challenges facing SEAS.

“SEAS is crowded, there’s no space,” Weitz said. “We can’t do research, we can’t teach.”

He added that even so, he was optimistic about the school’s eventual move to Allston.

“There’s only one challenge in my view, and that’s to make sure that SEAS remains part of the University,” Weitz said.

“As long as we overcome that, there’s no challenges, there’s only excitement and opportunity.”

—Staff writer Brian C. Zhang can be reached at brianzhang@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @brianczhang.

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