Harvard Proposes Extended Hours for Smith Center Construction

Smith Center Construction
Construction on the Smith Center is expected to last through 2018.
Harvard has filed an application to continue the “installation of steel, concrete repairs and concrete demolition” between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight for the Smith Campus Center, an indication that the University is taking new steps to meet its fall 2018 opening date for the renovated student center.

Currently, construction takes place during business hours, and Harvard shuts off Holyoke St. between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

On October 12, 2016, the University filed for a similar noise variance to allow for “drilling, crane, sledgehammers, access equipment and diesel truck for deliveries” through March 15, 2017. The most recent filing, however, calls for more extensive work during the requested hours.

The Smith Campus Center construction has taken a toll on some local businesses, while the noise has posed a problem for some students who live nearby.

En Boca, a Mediterranean-inspired tapas restaurant on Holyoke St., was forced to close its doors just eight months after opening due to slow business. The restaurant is suing the University, alleging that the University failed to adequately inform them of the scope of the construction. Harvard contends that it took several steps to receive feedback from and inform local businesses about the construction.

Although most neighboring retail stores will be unaffected by the proposal, the extended construction hours could impact nearby restaurants that see peak business in the evenings, as well as students living nearby.

Earlier this semester, Dean of Ivy Yard Michael C. Ranen, along with the Harvard University Construction Mitigation Team and Apley Court’s proctors, purchased noise-cancelling headphones for the 30 freshmen living in Apley Court, which is across the street from the Smith Campus Center. Students in Apley said that the earlier morning construction affected their ability to sleep.

Other dorms abut the construction site, too. Harvard students live in Wigglesworth entryways J and K, as well as swing housing above JP Licks, which are both directly across the street.

Discussion of the noise variance application was postponed until the next License Commission meeting on Wednesday, November 29 at 3 p.m.

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