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Science Center Work Nears Finish

By Matthew S. Meisel, Contributing Writer

After 22 months of construction and a few unanticipated delays, officials said yesterday they expect renovations on the Science Center to be entirely done within the coming weeks.

All work on the Science Center will finish by the end of April, barring weather delays, according to John B. Mathers, the assistant director of the Science Center who is in charge of physical planning and development.

Although the most visible sign of the construction—the staging area between the Science Center main entrance and Memorial Hall—was dismantled last Friday, several areas of the interior remain unfinished.

Work on the first floor atrium, skylight windows and courtyard is set to be completed within the next two weeks, Mathers said. The statistics department, the only department that remains displaced by the construction, is still waiting for the completion of its new offices.

The department’s sixth- and seventh-floor offices remain under construction, and the department has been temporarily relocated to the second floor. The history of science department, which previously occupied that space, moved into the Science Center’s new east wing last year.

Professor of Statistics Xiao-Li Meng, who will become chair of the statistics department in July, described the temporary space as adequate, but said he looks forward to some of the perks of the new offices, including centralized, convenient computing facilities for the department.

“We used to have the computer labs scattered around, but we will have one central place to hold most of the computer facilities, surrounded by offices,” he said.

Still, Meng said that some faculty in the department have expressed frustration that they might not be able to move into their new offices until May, or even June.

Jeffrey J. Cushman ’69, capital projects manager for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Department of Physical Services, cited several difficulties as reasons for the delayed finish.

“It’s very difficult to work in an occupied building with classes going,” he said.

He also cited the lack of clear blueprints as a major obstacle.

“The existing drawings were not terribly accurate in some respects,” he said. “We found [building] conditions not as we anticipated, and we had to deal with them as they came up.”


One project already completed is the relocation of the Collection of Historic Scientific Instruments from the basement to a more visible location on the first floor. Mathers noted that moving the equipment, some of it centuries old, was a “very delicate process.”

The Oxford Street entrance, which includes a new handicapped accessible ramp, is also open.

A shuttle stop previously located at the intersection of Oxford Street and Kirkland Street will not be reopened, according to Harvard Transportation Services Operations Manager Carl A. Tempesta. The stop has been permanently moved to the driveway behind Memorial Hall.

In a separate renovation project within the Science Center, a technology showcase and student repair center in the basement is also nearing completion. The Computer Product and Repair Center will be located in the space formerly used as the coursepack copying and distribution site.

Joanne Silva, director of Harvard Printing and Publication Services (HPPS), described the planned space as a convenient, multipurpose location. At the beginning of each semester, the site would distribute coursepacks. But the space would also serve as a technology center where students and faculty could have hardware problems repaired and try out new computer hardware without making the trek to existing facilities farther from campus.

“We’ve had students complain about having to go to the [Cambridgeside] Galleria, and that’s not an easy place to get to,” she said. “We would provide some level of service on campus for students.”

HPPS will work with Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services to provide on-site computer repairs. Currently, students and faculty must travel to the Technology Product Center in Allston for hardware repairs.

Officials from HPPS also plan to meet this week with Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98 about coordinating computer repair efforts with the User Assistants.

Silva said she expects the center to open May 6.

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