Price of Mather Cut by $500,000


Ground has been broken for Mather House--Harvard's tenth House--after the University brought construction costs closer in line with original estimates.

The University trimmed about $500,000 from the lowest of eight construction bids, bringing the contract figure to $9,460,000. L. Gard Wiggins, administrative vice-president said yesterday that the cost-cutting will not affect Mather's "outside appearance, size, or living comfort."

Most of the savings came from substituting less expensive building materials and methods for those originally planned. Radiators, for instance, will have standard rather than custom-tailored enclosures; windows will swing in instead of out; floors, through most of the building, will be covered with vinyl asbestos tile instead of carpet.

Early this month, Harvard announced that all contractors vying for the Mather project had submitted construction bids substantially higher than the University estimate of $8 million. Before the contract could be signed and construction begun, the University had to find ways to reduce costs. University planners feared that the delay would prevent completion of the building by September 1969 as planned.

University officials, in consultation with Mather's architect, Jean-Paul Carlhian, and the Turner Construction Company, the firm submitting the lowest original bid, worked out a series of technical modifications worth a half-million dollars in construction savings. On November 7, the University agreed to contract with Turner, and excavation began shortly after. Occupancy, Wiggins said, is still scheduled for September 1969.

According to Wiggins, Mather's cost of $9,460,000 works out to about $23,600 for each of the 400 students who will live in the House.

The cost-trimmings have left the basic design for Mather intact. The House will contain a 21-story tower flanked by three 5-story sections.

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