The development of Harvard Square is finally moving forward after a long period of dormancy and squabbling.
I. M. Pei architects disclosed their preliminary plans for the Kennedy Library complex in a public meeting Thursday.
They have developed a semicircular building housing the library and a museum on the 12-acre site overlooking the Charles River. A pedestrian mall of shops and cafes will be located below ground with entrances to the parking garage, the main building, and the condominium apartments located behind the main building.
Last week the developer of the Holiday Inn now being constructed adjacent to the Library complex reached an agreement with the City to build an eight-story hotel in place of the originally planned 18-story tower. The new L-shaped design is in line with the Harvard Square Task Force's recommendation to limit building height to 100 ft.
And yesterday, Governor Francis W. Sargent proposed the extension of the Harvard subway line to Alewife or Arlington Heights as part of a comprehensive new transportation program for the Boston area. The extended red-line would cut down congestion in the Square and enable satellite parking facilities for commuters, shoppers and sightseers.
Though just one building, the Holiday Inn has become an important indicator of the direction of Square development. The reduction in height is a relief to devotees of a low contour region. Pei architects warned earlier this year that if the Holiday Inn built a high-rise, the Library Corporation might also build towers to prevent the hotel from aesthetically dominating the memorial site.
These worries seem past now. Theodore Musho, as I. M. Pei architect, expressed optimism yesterday that, with community support. Pei will produce great architecture. People are beginning to focus on the issues of coordinated development," he said. "Harvard Square will come of age."
The only remaining question is when, If everything goes according to schedule, the MBTA will move its subway cars to Dorchester next December, and demolition of the car barns will start immediately thereafter. The Library Corporation hopes to start work in early 1974--shooting for completion by July 1976, in time for the nation's Bicentennial.