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Harvard Updates Cambridge on Construction and Climate Initiatives in 27th ‘Town Gown’ Report

Harvard presented its 27th annual Town Gown report to the Cambridge Planning Board on Tuesday.
Harvard presented its 27th annual Town Gown report to the Cambridge Planning Board on Tuesday. By Margaret F. Ross
By Madeline E. Proctor, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard discussed its developments in Cambridge and Allston, and sustainability efforts during its 27th annual Town Gown report to the Cambridge Planning Board Tuesday evening.

Harvard representatives joined spokespeople from Lesley University and MIT to present Town Gown reports, which detail the institutions’ engagement with the city beyond their gates.

The phrase “Town Gown” refers to dialogue between academic institutions — symbolized by a graduation gown — and the town, representing Cambridge.

Harvard’s report largely focused on the University’s sustainability and climate initiatives.

Heather A. Henriksen, Harvard’s chief sustainability officer, said Harvard has already taken steps toward its goal of fossil fuel neutrality by 2026.

“You may see some of our 100 percent electric buses driving the streets of Cambridge,” Henriksen said.

Still, Henriksen said Harvard has more steps to take to meet its goals, such as increasing solar power on campus and constructing “fossil-fuel free buildings.”

Harvard presenters also discussed in-progress developments across the more than 16 million square feet of Cambridge real estate owned by the University.

Alexandra J. Offiong, Harvard’s director of planning services, updated the city on the plans to construct a new building for the Economics department on the plot of land behind the Littauer Center, which currently houses the department.

The building was funded by a $100 million donation from Penny S. Pritzker ’81, the Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation — Harvard’s highest governing body.

Offiong added that Harvard is “nearing completion of the renovation of 60 Oxford Street,” an existing building for the Harvard Quantum Initiative in Science and Engineering and is currently renovating Harvard Science Center’s teaching labs.

Offiong also showcased projects in Allston, including the planned construction of the Enterprise Research Campus and a new performance center for the American Repertory Theater — which will also include 500 beds of housing.

Harvard concluded by sharing progress on initiatives to engage Cambridge students.

Thomas J. Lucey, Harvard’s director of government and community relations, said partnerships with Cambridge Public Schools are a priority for Harvard.

“Harvard programs are in every single CPS school,” Lucey said. “These programs range from curriculum-based initiatives that benefit all students at various grade levels, to the high school summer school, to internships in Harvard labs, to programs that address achievement gaps.”

During the meeting, some Planning Board members advocated for greater collaboration between the three schools and increased engagement with the greater Boston area.

“We’re stronger together — the institutions and the city,” said Planning Board member Tom Sieniewicz. “We need each other to make this an even more extraordinary community, and to also help fix the world.”

—Staff writer Madeline E. Proctor can be reached at

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