Harvard Talks Up New Housing

Local universities present development plans


At Cambridge’s annual “Town-Gown” meeting last night, Harvard and other local university officials said they were seeking to offer more graduate student housing in Cambridge that could boost nightlife.

Charles Studen, a Harvard planning official, assured the Cambridge Planning Commission that despite the slew of construction across the river in Allston, “Cambridge remains the heart of the University.”

Studen outlined current construction projects taking place at Harvard, including renovations of the current Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museum building; Fairfax Hall, which houses the Leavitt & Pierce cigar store; Rockefeller Hall at the Harvard Divinity School; and the New College Theatre on the former site of the Hasty Pudding.

Fifty percent of Harvard graduate students will reside in Harvard housing by 2011, according to a report presented to the commission last night.

Brian Murphy, a Cambridge city councillor who co-chairs the city’s university relations committee, said that an increase in graduate housing “may create the critical mass we need to improve the night life in our city.”

Murphy also spoke out in favor of providing graduate students residences in the Quad houses by moving undergraduates into newer Allston dormitories.

Harvard’s neighbors near Linnaean St. may be interested in “a more stable and more mature population that may be a bit quieter at night,” he told the commission, while the shift might also improve the quality of life “for students who use ‘quadding’ as a verb.”

Murphy said in an interview that he was impressed by MIT’s attempts to increase retail space in Porter Square, an effort he said is also needed in Harvard Square.

“Most people only have one ATM card, and there are only so many times you want to go to an ATM,” Kelley said in reference to the plethora of banks surrounding Harvard. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]

Mary Power, senior director of community relations at Harvard, said that the University has worked to rent spaces to small or independently owned businesses.

Representatives from MIT and Lesley Universities also presented their local development plans before an audience of about 40 members of the public, emphasizing expansions in undergraduate and graduate student housing.

While Lesley representatives said they would be constructing four additional dormitories in the coming years after an expected threefold increase in enrollment by 2008, MIT is looking to restore its falling undergraduate population.

Steven C. Marsh, managing director of real estate for the MIT Investment Management Company, told the commission that MIT’s undergraduate enrollment had decreased by 566 per year since 1993. The university plans to enroll an additional 100 students per year starting in 2008, he said, and will still offer on-campus housing to all its freshmen.

Cambridge resident Roy Bercaw, the lone member of the public to comment at the meeting, expressed worry about the development plans and the possibility of a leak at MIT’s cancer laboratories.

“Some of these particles are so small, they can escape and we can’t see them,” Bercaw said.

—Staff writer Nicholas K. Tabor can be reached at

The Feb. 7 news article "Harvard Talks Up New Housing" incorrectly attributed remarks by Cambridge City Councillor Brian Murphy to Councillor Craig A. Kelley. The article should have stated: “Most people only have one ATM card, and there are only so many times you want to go to an ATM,” Murphy said in reference to the plethora of banks surrounding Harvard.