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With Crane Raised, Kennedy School Begins Construction

By Nathaniel J. Hiatt, Crimson Staff Writer

With the erection of a 500-ton tower crane in December, construction crews on Harvard Kennedy School’s campus have begun placing the steel beams that will form the structure of the school’s three new buildings and raised courtyard.

The $126 million project, which began in May 2015, is proceeding on schedule and on budget, according to John A. Haigh, executive dean at the Kennedy School, and Janney Wilson, chief financial and administrative officer for the Kennedy School.

The Kennedy School, which plans to finance the entire project through fundraising, has already accrued 90 percent of the total renovation costs, according to Haigh. Part of that fundraising comes from donors whose names will adorn the new buildings, though administrators have not yet released those individuals’ identities.

“There are people who have given us money and have asked us to remain anonymous for the time being,” Haigh said.

Haigh said he expects all of the new structural beams to be in place—a milestone known as “topping off”—by early this summer. The school hopes to complete the construction and open the new buildings by January 2018, according to Haigh.

The construction includes three new buildings that will connect the existing Belfer, Littauer, Rubenstein, and Taubman buildings in addition to creating six classrooms, a new dining space, and new social and study areas.

“We want it to be open and inviting, so the main level of the new gateway building will be a student lounge,” Haigh said. “It will be open and well lit into the evening.”

As workers ramp up construction, Kennedy School administrators have tried to keep faculty and staff happy throughout the process, which has closed off the campus’ main courtyard and caused “a fair amount of noise and vibration” during the summer, Haigh said.

“Our approach on communication has been to be very open and very transparent in order to give people notice of what's coming so that they're not surprised,” Haigh said. “Faculty members said to me, ‘If you just keep us informed and let us know what’s happening, we’ll be supportive. If we’re surprised, we’ll just be angry.”

Kennedy School administators have also offered solutions to faculty who have been bothered by the ongoing construction.

“We have swing space,” Wilson said. “We would hand out Bose headphones to whoever wanted them.”

—Staff writer Nathaniel J. Hiatt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nathaniel_hiatt.

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