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Harvard will establish the David Rubenstein Treehouse as the school’s first University-wide conference center and a welcome area for its future Enterprise Research Campus in Allston, the University announced Wednesday.
Supported by a gift from Harvard Corporation member and billionaire David M. Rubenstein, the new facility will host international summits, recruitment fairs, alumni events, and receptions, according to a University press release.
“I am honored to help Harvard with a conference center that will serve as a convening place for academic and business visitors, as well as Harvard faculty and students, at the exciting new Enterprise Research Campus Harvard is building in Allston,” Rubenstein said in the release.
Designed by Studio Gang, an architecture firm led by Graduate School of Design Professor Jeanne K. Gang, the center will contain a ground floor open to the public and multi-use spaces. Construction management companies Consigli and Smoot will undertake the building of the center.
The center will serve as a “front door” to Harvard’s planned Enterprise Research Campus in Allston, which will offer office, lab, residential, and hotel spaces. The Boston Planning and Development Agency approved the first phase of the project — a 900,000 square foot development — in July. The approval marked a victory for Harvard, as its plans for real estate development in Allston have long received backlash from residents and elected officials..
“David and I have had many wonderful conversations about Allston’s role in Harvard’s future,” University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in the press release. “With this generous gift to support a world-class conference center, he is helping to bring together entrepreneurship, innovation, and research for the benefit of everyone.”
The center will operate completely on electricity from Harvard’s District Energy Facility, described by the University as “lower-carbon” and “climate resistant.” The building’s design also allows it to capture rainwater and use solar energy as a supplementary source of clean energy.
According to the release, the above-ground construction of the center will rely on mass timber rather than concrete or steel in order to reduce carbon emissions. The use of wood also illustrates the name of the building, and the upper-level areas “feel almost suspended within the surrounding tree canopy,” according to Gang.
“The building’s visible mass timber columns and beams emphasize the branching structure — you can see the V-shaped columns extending out and the diagonals of the cross-bracing reach all the way to the roof, becoming finer the higher they rise,” Gang said in the release.
Known for his philanthropy, Rubenstein has been a member of the Harvard Corporation since 2017 and is a co-founder and co-chairman of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Rubenstein currently serves as a member of the search committee for Harvard’s 30th president.
“Even with all that is possible virtually today, having a space to come together and collaborate unlocks the potential of the brightest minds,” Rubenstein said in the release.
— Staff writer John N. Peña can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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