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Razing of Carey Cage Imminent

Preservationists Criticize Decision Process

By Jonathan N. Axelrod

After nearly 100 years of housing Harvard athletics programs, Carey Cage is slated for demolition in the next few weeks.

Athletes and preservationists said yesterday they had only recently become aware of the impending destruction of the cage, which is home of the varsity weight-room and an architectural landmark.

According to Harris S. Band, director of comprehensive planning, the cage will be demolished to accommodate a new racquet facility being built behind it and to "create an appropriate entry point to the eight major athletic buildings."

"The area where Carey Cage is criticall because it is the entry point which enables people to know where they are...And we are attempting to create an appropriate entry experience, an entry plaza," Band said yesterday.

University officials said the move is being made as part of the reshaping of the Harvard Stadium athletic area.

Officials said weight training would be moved to the to the Gordon Track and Tennis Center, but athletes interviewed yesterday said they had heard training would be spread across a number of facilities.

"There's no question Carey was a very lively facility for our department and in the interim period we do not have a weight room--we're looking forward to a new weight training facility," said Greg J. Garber, assistant athletic director for operations.

Athletes said they had not been officially informed about the change. None of those interviewed knew exactly how their weight-training would be affected.

"I think all athletes are disappointed because our training will be reduced," said Ailey Y. A. Penningroth '97, a member of the track team. "Part of the difficulty is that people were never told outright. We just heard two days ago and the shock is still there."

According to Garber demolition is scheduled for the week following Thanksgiving.

Carey Cage was renovated only three years ago to establish the current varsity weight room, widely described as one of the best in the Ivy League.

Historic Concerns

Although the University claims it has received no opposition on this project, some preservationists complained yesterday that they were never notified of the demolition.

"The area around the stadium is the sight of the most significant modern architecture at Harvard and the potential for demolition by Harvard of a major architectural firm's structure is a situation of the utmost gravity in terms of respect for architecture," said Margaret Floyd, an author of a book on Harvard architecture and a professor of architectural history at Tufts.

University officials contends, however, that they acted to balance preservation and necessity.

"In terms of historic preservation, we focused on [preserving] the stadium," Band said. "We agonized about this decision--Harvard did not come to it quickly or lightly, but we felt in terms of historical significance a functioning athletic area with Harvard Stadium as the center was our primary concern. Carey could not be used for the modern athletic purposes needed."

But Floyd's criticism extends beyond the actual project to the politics of the approval process. The architect said she was very upset that the proper architectural authorities were not informed of the Boston Landmark Commission's hearing on the issue.

The commission is charged with protecting the city's landmark buildings and ensuring that change does not take place without public debate. The commission may delay, but not reject building projects in historic areas.

"Something has slipped in the system. Its very strange because the Preservation Alliance is supposed to be informed," she said. "Experts are supposed to be notified about hearing like this, but that step was not taken."

According to Ellen Lipsey, executive director of the commission, the commission held a hearing in September on the issue. When no opposition was heard, the commission voted on September 27 not to take action on the cage demolition.

"[At the hearing Harvard officials] talked about most of the land over there being water-logged and they looked at moving it but couldn't," Lipsey said.

"They explained the development of the complex and how the building did not fit in. The commission felt that Harvard had looked at the alternatives in good faith and found that they were not viable," she said.

Historians differ over the significance of the Cage, although scholars agree that it was build by one of two major architectural firms during the 1890s.

According to Charles Sullivan, director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, the building was the first on the Soldier Field athletic complex.

Athletic Significance

Coaches and athletes differed yesterday on the significance of the decision to the athletic program.

Tim Murphy, head football coach, said he could not comment on the specifics of the move, which he said he would examine after the end of the football season.

"I thing in the long-run is a very positive addition, and in the short-run we will endure some hard-ships," Murphy said. "Trying to fit all student athletes into a new facility is the obvious space problem in the short-run."

In addition, Garber added that his concern was how to make the Gordon weight arrangement accessible to both varsity and recreational users, although the current recreational facility will have to be replaced.

Athletes contacted expressed a wide-range of emotions, although many said they were disappointed.

"Everyone is disappointed...all sports.," said running back Eion Hu '97. "It was very comfortable, everyone could see everyone, they had mirrors..now I guess they're going to throw everyone in the ITT."

"I'm pretty upset...The facilities there are great and it was the whole athletic community," added soccer forward William A. Kohler '97. "I remembered [the cage] was new when I was being recruited three years ago, it was the pride and joy of the department."

Some, however, said they do not think the move will affect their programs.

"To be honest the only effect is where you're lifting, people shouldn't let it bother them," said football player Kevin M. Dwan '96. "Life isn't perfect, it just means teams and athletes managing their time a little better."

His teammate Jay A. Snowden '98 agreed.

"I don't know if it will make a difference as long as we have a place to work out that's as big as the cage," Snowed said. "The location is nothing special."

--Victoria E. M. Cain '97 contributed to the reporting of this story.

University officials contends, however, that they acted to balance preservation and necessity.

"In terms of historic preservation, we focused on [preserving] the stadium," Band said. "We agonized about this decision--Harvard did not come to it quickly or lightly, but we felt in terms of historical significance a functioning athletic area with Harvard Stadium as the center was our primary concern. Carey could not be used for the modern athletic purposes needed."

But Floyd's criticism extends beyond the actual project to the politics of the approval process. The architect said she was very upset that the proper architectural authorities were not informed of the Boston Landmark Commission's hearing on the issue.

The commission is charged with protecting the city's landmark buildings and ensuring that change does not take place without public debate. The commission may delay, but not reject building projects in historic areas.

"Something has slipped in the system. Its very strange because the Preservation Alliance is supposed to be informed," she said. "Experts are supposed to be notified about hearing like this, but that step was not taken."

According to Ellen Lipsey, executive director of the commission, the commission held a hearing in September on the issue. When no opposition was heard, the commission voted on September 27 not to take action on the cage demolition.

"[At the hearing Harvard officials] talked about most of the land over there being water-logged and they looked at moving it but couldn't," Lipsey said.

"They explained the development of the complex and how the building did not fit in. The commission felt that Harvard had looked at the alternatives in good faith and found that they were not viable," she said.

Historians differ over the significance of the Cage, although scholars agree that it was build by one of two major architectural firms during the 1890s.

According to Charles Sullivan, director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, the building was the first on the Soldier Field athletic complex.

Athletic Significance

Coaches and athletes differed yesterday on the significance of the decision to the athletic program.

Tim Murphy, head football coach, said he could not comment on the specifics of the move, which he said he would examine after the end of the football season.

"I thing in the long-run is a very positive addition, and in the short-run we will endure some hard-ships," Murphy said. "Trying to fit all student athletes into a new facility is the obvious space problem in the short-run."

In addition, Garber added that his concern was how to make the Gordon weight arrangement accessible to both varsity and recreational users, although the current recreational facility will have to be replaced.

Athletes contacted expressed a wide-range of emotions, although many said they were disappointed.

"Everyone is disappointed...all sports.," said running back Eion Hu '97. "It was very comfortable, everyone could see everyone, they had mirrors..now I guess they're going to throw everyone in the ITT."

"I'm pretty upset...The facilities there are great and it was the whole athletic community," added soccer forward William A. Kohler '97. "I remembered [the cage] was new when I was being recruited three years ago, it was the pride and joy of the department."

Some, however, said they do not think the move will affect their programs.

"To be honest the only effect is where you're lifting, people shouldn't let it bother them," said football player Kevin M. Dwan '96. "Life isn't perfect, it just means teams and athletes managing their time a little better."

His teammate Jay A. Snowden '98 agreed.

"I don't know if it will make a difference as long as we have a place to work out that's as big as the cage," Snowed said. "The location is nothing special."

--Victoria E. M. Cain '97 contributed to the reporting of this story.

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