Harvard Sprawls Across Region

Harvard University started out in the early 1600s as one house on an acre of land filled with grazing cows.

Now covering 192 acres with nearly 400 buildings in Cambridge alone, Harvard bears little resemblance to what it once was.

During the 20th century, the Harvard campus has grown at a rate of about one million square feet per decade in the city. With the University's continuing development in Cambridge and its acquisition of 52 acres of land in the Boston suburb of Allston, the expansion will continue well into the 21st century.

Learning lessons from a tussle with neighbors over a major building, Harvard is asking for more community input on its development as it realizes that determined residents do want a say.

The Knafel Conundrum

In Cambridge, the most contested areas of Harvard's expansion and development occur at the so-called "soft edges" where the campus meets the city, which are often next to large residential areas.

Why these areas? Simply because there is still room for new buildings there.

"What is still available to develop is all at the edge of the campus, which most directly affects residents," says Kathy Spiegelman, head of Harvard Planning and Real Estate.

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