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Allston-Brighton Residents Excited to Host American Repertory Theater

The American Repertory Theater is bound for a new home in Allston, with residents expressing excitement for the award-winning performance center's arrival.
The American Repertory Theater is bound for a new home in Allston, with residents expressing excitement for the award-winning performance center's arrival. By Kai R. McNamee
By Kate Delval Gonzalez, Crimson Staff Writer

Allston-Brighton residents said they are looking forward to the arrival of the award-winning American Repertory Theater at 175 North Harvard St., part of a new Harvard development that will also offer housing for affiliates.

The plans for the development were originally approved in 2013, with the intent to redevelop the site with a new basketball venue and a mixed-use institutional development focusing on student housing.

Since then, Lavietes Basketball Pavilion has undergone renovations to improve the existing location, which gave way to the amended plans, filed Nov. 30 of last year, proposing to relocate the A.R.T. to Allston instead. Harvard’s new proposal still requires BPDA approval before construction can get underway.

The updated proposal also mentions a residential building of approximately 276,000 square feet, containing a total of 264 units and 480 beds. The proposed development will also boast a gym, a resident lounge, study rooms, and a residential courtyard.

Barbara M. Parmenter, an Allston-Brighton resident and a current Harvard-Allston Task Force member, said she was excited for the development and the new housing it will bring.

“I feel like we need a lot more housing in our neighborhood and in our city and our state in general,” Parmenter said.

The project also proposes a relocation of a nearby Bluebikes station and a renovation of the bus stop located in front of the proposed development site near Barry’s Corner.

Another focal point of the project is the relocation of the A.R.T., which was first founded in 1980 and has been residing at the Loeb Drama Center — a building constructed in 1960 – on Brattle Street ever since.

The new location for the A.R.T. will consist of a building of approximately 68,000 square feet and will contain two performance theaters with a combined total of 1,000 seats. The new location will also offer an outdoor performance yard, rehearsal spaces, and studio areas.

According to an announcement by the A.R.T. in 2019, “internationally renowned” architects from Haworth Tompkins are set to design their future Allston home, which will be the first building designed by this firm in the United States.

The proposed plan follows a $100 million gift to Harvard from hedge fund manager David E. Goel ’93 and Stacy L. Goel in 2019, for the purpose of a new “arts and research performance space in Allston”.

Parmenter said she believes this project will help contribute to the arts culture in the area.

“I think one of the things the task force made clear was this can be such a great contribution to really making Barry’s Corner a kind of go-to location for arts and culture,” she said, referring to the Harvard-Allston Task Force.

Tim McHale, Brighton resident and HATF member, said the arts are a “great engine to transform any neighborhood.”

McHale added he hopes the A.R.T. will be an “architectural masterpiece.”

“I think the building needs to show itself off,” McHale said.

Mary-Helen Black, an Allston resident, said the A.R.T. will serve as an “anchor” for the neighborhood.

“I think it’s going to be positive. I think it’s going to help the local restaurants, the coffee shops that are around there,” Black said. “It’s going to create more of a destination, which is great.”

Harvard spokesperson Amy Kamosa said the relocation of the A.R.T. at 175 North Harvard Street will further enliven the Allston-Brighton neighborhood.

“175 North Harvard St. will be an innovative new home for the A.R.T, and its globally renowned theater, which will build on the established and flourishing arts culture in Allston,” Kamosa said.

“It will also create needed housing for Harvard students and affiliates, as well as a lively streetscape and publicly accessible open space, which will help add vibrancy to an already thriving neighborhood,” she added.

—Staff writer Kate Delval Gonzalez can be reached at

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