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Location, Design Chosen for New Life Sciences Center

Complex will help promote interdisciplinary study

In a project that has moved forward with remarkable speed, the University has selected an architect, a location and preliminary design plans for a $25 to $30 million life sciences center in the Cabot sciences complex.

The building, slated to be built between Oxford and Divinity Avenues, makes up a significant part of Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles' $200 million commitment to improving the sciences at Harvard.

The first resident of the building will be the Center for Genomics and Proteomics (CGP), which will focus on looking at whole cells in an attempt to better explain animal behavior and evolution.

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Current plans call for the as--yet unnamed 50,000 square foot building--roughly the size of University Hall--to connect to the Naito Chemistry Laboratory.

This building, also under construction, is scheduled to be completed by September, according to David A. Zewinski '76, associate dean for planning and physical resources for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

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The CGP's future home will also connect to the Fairchild building, which houses the Molecular Biochemistry and Biology departments.

University officials cautioned that the planning process for the center remains in the early stages.

Zewinski said he hopes "biddable construction documents" will be ready by February 2001, with construction to follow some time after.

The new life sciences center continues the University's current push for interdisciplinary study, following in the steps of the Barker Center, Boylston Hall and the planned Knafel Center for Government and International Studies.

When it opens, the building's first resident will be CGP, but Zewinski emphasized that other activities will also take place in the new facility.

"[The building] is really being built for interdisciplinary science research. The first occupant will be CGP, but it will eventually contain other scientific disciplines," he said.

However, Knowles cautioned that plans are not yet concrete. "We don't yet know the precise configuration of occupancy [of the building]," Knowles wrote in an e-mail message.

The life sciences building is the latest in a series of new buildings in the area, including Naito and the Maxwell-Dworkin building.

The building will be located in what Zewinski described as "the last obvious development site within the within the Molecular and Cell Biology science complex."

It will be built on the site of the Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, a 6,000 square foot building built in the 1940s, which has long been recognized as being in need of replacement, Zewinski said.

He indicated that in planning for Naito, the developer allowed for future construction to be attached to it.

Still, Zewinski acknowledged the connection between Naito and the life sciences building is being made before it was expected.

"We are coming back sooner than we had anticipated," Zewinski said. "[Knowles'] commitment has precipitated more rapid movement."

While Knowles said the swift construction underscores his commitment to the sciences, he added that the project is not being rushed.

"There's a difference between 'quickly' and 'expeditiously'!" Knowles wrote. "I hope that the planning will proceed efficiently: once one decides to move ahead, delays frustrate."

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