Deans Vet Allston Plan

Science, Housing Are At Center of Proposal

Harvard’s deans and president heard a tentative plan this summer for a new University campus in Allston which called for a science hub and undergraduate housing to be built on the other side of the Charles.

The plan also calls for the School of Public Health (SPH) and the Graduate School of Education (GSE)—two schools cramped in their current locations—to be rebuilt on the University’s vast holdings of formerly industrial land in Allston.

The caveats are many: the plan is far from approval and it leaves details of both the prospective science campus and undergraduate dormitories to be determined.

But sources at the July 15 meeting described a proposal that is the most concrete to date and which was well received by a roomful of the University’s most powerful administrators.

University President Lawrence H. Summers and the deans of Harvard’s schools heard the plan at their annual retreat at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Presidential adviser and Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy Dennis F. Thompson, who also chairs the University Physical Planning Committee (UPPC), a high-profile committee of professors and planners which spent years hashing over options for Harvard’s new land, presented the proposal to the deans.

Thompson and Summers both declined comment this weekend.

Under the plan, the law school—long considered a prime candidate for a move across the river—is off the hook. This represents a victory for its faculty, which has been dead-set against leaving Cambridge for several years.

Instead, housing and science would anchor the campus.

Possibilities for undergraduate housing in Allston are said to include a relocation of the Radcliffe Quad or the creation of new Houses and expansion of the College (Please see story, below).

The plan for science could entail moving departments of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and Harvard Medical School, building new interdisciplinary centers, or some combination of the two.

Harvard officials would neither confirm nor deny details of the meeting.

“No decisions have been made,” University spokesperson Alan J. Stone said in an interview. “There will be a great deal of consultation in the fall as we move toward the next stage in the planning process.”

Over the last decade, the University has purchased hundreds of acres of industrial and commercial land across the Charles River and contiguous with Harvard Business School.

Allston planning moved to the front burner with the advent of Summers’ presidency. In his installation adress in October 2001, he pledged that planning and development of a new campus in Allston would be one of his top priorities as president.