Harvard's Allston Footprint Under Construction

All eyes these days are fixed on Harvard’s ongoing capital campaign, but across the Charles River, construction is quietly underway in North Allston.

Jake Freyer

UPDATED: September 18, 2014, at 9:40 p.m.

All eyes these days are fixed on Harvard’s ongoing capital campaign, but across the Charles River, construction is quietly underway on a host of long-delayed and recently gifted capital projects in North Allston. Harvard has had its sights set on expansion in Allston for decades, and in 2003, then-University President Lawrence H. Summers laid out ambitious plans for new academic and residential facilities across the Charles. The University released a master plan for Allston in 2007 but decided to halt construction in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis.

A scaled-back plan was unveiled three years later and approved last fall; construction is now lined up for the better part of the next decade. Plans approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority include a nine-project institutional master plan that will create 1.4 million square feet of new construction and 500,000 square feet of renovations, a retail and residential commons that will contain 325 apartment units, and a $1 billion science complex that will house the relocated parts of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Here’s an update of the handful of projects already underway and set to begin in the near future.


Harvard Business School Chao Center:

After breaking ground in April, construction on the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, the future home of the Business School’s Executive Education Program, will continue through May 2016. The more than 10,000 executives who participate in the program each year will make use of the center, which was funded by a $40 million gift from the Chao family.

Baker Hall Renovation:

The renovation of Baker Hall, a residence hall to be fitted with up-to-date technology services for the Business School’s Executive Education students, began in April. The six-story building will be renamed in honor of André Esteves, a Brazilian billionaire whose donation funded the 78,000-square-foot project.

Bright-Landry Hockey Center Renovation:

The renovation of the Bright Hockey Center, which began in 2013, is one of the first projects in Harvard’s IMP to be completed. Finished in Aug. 2014, the renovations added a new entrance to the rink and an expansion to existing locker rooms, bathrooms, coaches’ facilities, and storage.


Charlesview Apartments:

Acquired in a 2007 land swap, the site of the old Charlesview apartments will house the “Gateway Project,” a “mixed use institutional building,” according to the IMP. Groundwork at the aged, concrete complex is ongoing in preparation for demolition later this year. Charlesview residents were relocated to a new apartment complex a half-mile down Western Ave. during the summer of 2013.

Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons:

The steel skeleton of the Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons—perhaps the most noticeable of Harvard’s ongoing construction projects in North Allston—towers above any other building currently standing at Barry’s Corner. The complex, contracted to developer Samuels & Associates and slated to be completed next fall, will house 325 apartment units and 40,000 square feet of retail space.

28 Travis Street:

After resuming construction in Allston in the summer of 2012, Harvard relocated mailroom services, HUIT, HUPD training facilities, recycling and storage, and “fleet management services” to 28 Travis Street, completed in the summer of 2013. Allston residents voiced concern that these institutional services were located too close to a residential neighborhood.

224 Western Ave.:

Earlier this month, the University unveiled plans for a new facility to open in February that will incorporate the Harvard-Allston Education Portal—the current location of which will be demolished to make way for a new basketball arena—as well as “transformative” programs promised to Allstonians in the IMP. Harvard’s plan earmarked $8.3 million for the new programming, which includes a collaboration with HarvardX.

The New SEAS:

In Dec. 2012, Harvard presented plans for a $1 billion health and life science center in Allston; just months later University President Drew G. Faust announced that the site would include part of SEAS. Allstonians have criticized the current appearance of the site, left untouched while Harvard reevaluated its Allston plans. Work on Harvard’s largest Allston project is still in its early stages, and construction is to be completed in late 2017 or early 2018.


Basketball Venue:

Though details are scant, Harvard plans to build a new basketball venue that will hold about 3,000 seats—about 1,000 more than the current basketball arena. The development, on property that currently houses the Ed Portal, will also include more than 200,000 square feet of graduate student housing space.

Hotel and Conference Center:

The IMP also includes plans to build a hotel and conference center with about 200 hotel rooms and meeting space. The University has not officially determined whether the hotel will be Harvard-run or managed by a third-party operator.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: September 18, 2014

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the entire School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will be moving to Allston. In fact, only parts of the school will move across the Charles River.


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