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Campus To Unfold New Seats

By June Q. Wu, Crimson Staff Writer

A 22-member committee that University President Drew G. Faust charged with creating additional social spaces on campus over a year ago announced the first of its plans yesterday: a collection of chairs and tables to be sprinkled across Harvard Yard and the Quad.

But these are no ordinary pieces of lawn furniture. The 476 chairs and 82 tables come in a variety of bright shades and are modeled after those found in the Jardin du Luxembourg of Paris so as to not detract from the aesthetic appeal of Harvard’s campus.

Starting tomorrow and lasting until the end of October, when it may prove difficult to congregate outside given Cambridge’s inclement weather, the chairs and tables will be placed near the Science Center, Memorial Hall, the Old Yard, Lehman Hall, and Boylston Hall. Harvard University Dining Services will set up Crimson Cash-friendly food stands featuring organic offerings and Mediterranean foods at many of the new seating areas.

“Lots of people would like Harvard Yard to be more of a place to kind of rest, so to speak,” said Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Graduate School of Design and co-chair of the Common Spaces Steering Committee. “There’s a lot of movement, and people were keen to find ways to basically slow down the traffic.”

Placing the low-cost chairs outside in the Yard amidst the hustle and bustle of students, faculty, and staff—as well as hordes of tourists sporting fanny packs—would be an experiment to provide “new forms of gathering spaces,” said Mostafavi.

The new gathering spaces will also serve as a makeshift performance space for student and affiliate groups, as per a recommendation included in the Arts Task Force Report released last December. Tomorrow will feature a lunchtime dance performance by cast members of the American Repertory Theater’s production of the Off-Broadway disco musical, “The Donkey Show.”

Though the committee may create indoor social space in the future, Mostafavi said that it will use feedback from the two-month experiment in the fall in making further recommendations.

“We have spaces that we can make into engaging interactive social places” said Lizabeth Cohen, chair of the History Department who also co-chairs the committee.

“This project is a model of what may happen on a larger scale: making better use of what we already have,” she added.

Since the committee’s creation last April, it has been soliciting input from the Harvard community about ways the Cambridge campus could be improved. Citing the need for “additional spaces for cultural, recreational, and social activities,”

Faust had instructed the committee to plan beyond campus construction projects at the time, such as the Lamont Library Café and the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub.

Already, student dance and music groups have expressed interest in performing in the newly created spaces. Executive board member of the Harvard Ballroom dance team Marco F. Perez-Moreno ’11 said that he and his teammates are thinking of putting on a lunchtime event.

Perez-Moreno called the program a “great opportunity” for student groups on campus and added that he hoped it will bring more attention to the arts on campus.

But some students remained skeptical of the new initiative.

“I respect the sentiment, but I think it’s bullshit,” said Adams resident Ashley “Aja” Jovanovski ’10.

“First of all, it’s going to be freezing in no time, and secondly, who stops in the middle of the Yard to sit?” she added.

Her friend, Catherine P. Humphreville ’10, also an Adams resident, added that she wouldn’t want to sit with tourists gawking at her.

—Staff writer June Q. Wu can be reached at junewu@fas.harvard.edu.

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