Harvard Talks Public Access to Allston Science Complex

UPDATED: October 15, 2015, at 9:22 a.m.

The general public will have access to the first floor of the proposed six-story School of Engineering and Applied Sciences complex in Allston on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. when it opens, Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications, said Wednesday.

Allston Campus Rendering
Plans for the science complex include classrooms, labs, lounge spaces, an exhibition space, a cafeteria, and 250 parking spots.

Casey presented more details about the University’s plans for the complex, which will house part of SEAS after it relocates from Cambridge to across the Charles River, at a Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting on Wednesday.

Allston residents have long pushed for Harvard to make its properties in the neighborhood open to area residents. The public will have limited access to the planned science complex building—which will rise to about 130 feet and span 586,000 square feet—on weekends, when likely only the first floor will stay open, Casey said Wednesday.

At the meeting Wednesday, Allston residents voiced concerns about allowing members of the public to occupy the open green spaces in the complex during night hours. Casey said security details, such as stationing a police officer or security guard, are in planning stages and that SEAS will iron them out later on.

At previous meetings, Allston residents and members of the Harvard-Allston task force had posed questions to representatives from the University, asking about planned day-to-day operations of the complex.

Despite comments from the attendees calling the task force meetings ineffective, Casey said he considered the discussions surrounding the SEAS complex a tangible sign of progress.

“These are the things that are lost in the nightly debate sometimes,” Casey said.

Earlier in the meeting, attendees criticized the task force for what they described as its lack of transparency with the Allston community at large.

One resident said the task force should consider hosting a public meeting with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and representatives from Harvard to brief residents on progress made with both groups. Others advocated for creating a vehicle of communication to broadcast task force meeting results to all Allston residents.

Task force members responded by saying that the group’s primary focus is to serve as an advisory board and work with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, although their meetings can serve as an outlet for the community.

—Staff writer Jalin P. Cunningham can be reached at jalin.cunningham@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @JalinCunningham.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: October 15, 2015

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the public will have full access to the science complex on weekdays. In fact, the public will only have access to the first floor.

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