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Harvard Plans Arts Facilities in Allston

Barry's Corner today, at the intersection of Western Ave and North Harvard St in Allston.
Barry's Corner today, at the intersection of Western Ave and North Harvard St in Allston. By Grace Z. Li
By Sarah Wu, Crimson Staff Writer

With the construction of its $1 billion Science and Engineering Complex in Allston well underway, Harvard announced plans to build an additional 9,000 square-foot building for student art-making a few blocks west of the complex, the University announced Monday.

Located at the intersection of North Harvard St. and Western Ave.—down the road from Harvard Stadium and across from the newly-opened Trader Joe’s grocery store—the proposed “ArtLab” will house an audio recording studio, sound editing stations, and performance spaces.

The ArtLab will operate alongside, but is not part of, Harvard’s “innovations labs cluster” in Allston. The Innovation Lab opened in 2011 to support student-led entrepreneurial projects, the Launch Lab in 2014 to support Harvard alumni entrepreneurs, and the Life Lab in 2016 to incubate Harvard-affiliated life science startups.

While the Science and Engineering Complex, which will house two-thirds of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has featured prominently in discussions about the University’s development plans across the Charles River, Harvard is also looking to create space for artists on its Allston campus.

"The ArtLab also represents our firm commitment to ensuring that creative and artistic innovation are at the heart of our campus,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a press release.

In response to the 2008 Report of the Task Force on the Arts, Harvard has invested in providing more arts-specific programming and physical spaces. The ArtLab will add to existing programming at the Ceramics Studio, Ed Portal, and Zone 3, a Harvard-initiated project to host creative programs and local events open to the public.

Faust said she views the ArtLab as “a home where faculty, staff, and students can engage in the kinds of interdisciplinary collaboration both within and beyond the curriculum.”

Robin Kelsey, dean of Arts and Humanities and co-chair of the ArtLab Steering Committee, emphasized the divergence from Harvard’s history of approaching art in a non-interdisciplinary way.

“The ArtLab will give them a space to mingle and experiment, free from the usual restraints of school, department, or medium,” Kelsey said in a press release.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency will require Harvard to file an amendment to its 2013 Institutional Master Plan. This will initiate an approval process.

If approved, the construction of ArtLab could begin as early as summer of 2018 for completion in early 2019.

—Staff writer Sarah Wu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarah_wu_.

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Humanities DivisionAllstonDrew FaustUniversityFront Middle Feature