Allston Q&A

The Science and Engineering Complex will be a state-of-the-art applied sciences facility that will provide laboratories, classrooms, and related teaching and research space. The eight-story (including two below grade) facility will be located in Harvard’s Allston campus and will consist of more than 500,000 square feet and feature 70,000 square feet of public green space.

Where will the Science and Engineering Complex be located?

The Science and Engineering Complex will be located at 150 Western Avenue in Allston, across from Harvard Business School and the i-lab, Life Lab, and Launch Lab. The existing building at 114 Western Avenue will be renovated and associated with the new facility comprising classrooms and SEAS administrative offices as well.

What is the construction timeline?

Construction began in summer 2016 and the facility will open in time for the 2020-2021 academic year. Program and design are complete and construction is well underway. Furniture selection for office, lab, classroom, and outdoor spaces is complete; it is currently underway for the library, lounges, and atrium/café space. 

Can I see the construction site?

Yes, a camera feed of the Science and Engineering Complex construction site is available here.

Who will occupy the Science and Engineering Complex?

The Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) will be the primary occupant of the Science and Engineering Complex. Some of the operations of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard that are currently based in Cambridge will also be part of the SEC. We expect that researchers from other Harvard science departments will use core research areas and facilities there. Certain segments of SEAS will remain in Cambridge. 

All SEAS central administrative offices, including the Dean, will be located in Allston (either in the SEC or in the adjacent satellite office/classroom building at 114 Western Ave.). There will be shared hoteling space in Cambridge for administrative office hours, and there will be touch-down space in Allston for those not located in Allston who wish to spend part of a day there for meetings, etc. Faculty administrators/coordinators and Research Portfolio Managers will be located on the campus of the faculty they support. 

How does the Science and Engineering Complex fit into the Allston community?

Harvard is committed to fostering a community in Allston which attracts business ventures and residents alike. The Science and Engineering Complex will help to anchor the proposed Allston Greenway, a 10-acre park featuring multi-use paths that will stretch from North Harvard Street towards the Charles River. The Science and Engineering Complex is the next addition to the Allston-Harvard community which includes Harvard Business School, the i-lab network, the Ed Portal, athletics facilities and retail tenants like Swissbakers, and will one day help to attract commercial partners to the adjacent Enterprise Research Campus property as well.

What is the status of Cambridge planning?

SEAS started planning in 2016 and FAS joined the process in 2017. A collaborative SEAS-FAS approach for the Cambridge campus is the right way to plan, but it will take longer. SEAS has produced a draft program that may be used to inform the collaborative SEAS-FAS planning process, but it is anticipated that a final, long-term plan with faculty engagement will be not be developed until sometime in the fall 2019 semester. Pending fundraising, it is likely that long terms plans will be implemented in stages over multiple years beyond 2020. In the meantime, a SEAS plan for immediate changes and modest improvements that can be implemented upon partial building vacancies during the summer of 2020, is being studied this semester. 

What about parking and transportation between the two campuses?

The SEC project will include a range of amenities to support safe, efficient and accessible multimodal access between Harvard’s Cambridge and Allston campuses. The SEC project includes new streets, shuttle bus routes, streetscape improvements, infrastructure upgrades, and transportation improvements including parking, transit accommodations, bike facilities and pedestrian amenities. Shuttle buses will also connect the SEC to the Longwood Medical Area.

Cambridge parking will remain as is. A large surface lot is being constructed adjacent to the SEC that will accommodate those who wish to park in Allston. There is a total of 275 car parking spaces between the 114 Western Avenue and 2 Hague Street lots. There will also be 570 bicycle parking places in Allston—414 of them covered and secured parking spaces and 60 inside a bike garage in the SEC. Bike share programs, such as Blue Bikes, will have hubs on both campuses. The campus shuttle system will be enhanced to accommodate more passengers on a more frequent basis. Detailed plans are being developed with the University.

In addition, the Commonwealth has plans for two new multi-modal hubs; the first, known as Academic Way, that will support new multi-modal connections, including shuttle stops, Zipcar and BlueBike locations; and the second to address long-term growth is the exploration of a commuter rail and bus station to the south of the SEC site, to be known at West Station.

What is being done to plan for our work together on dual campuses?

SEAS Management Operations Group spent last year identifying issues and started planning, specifically around:

--Maintaining high levels of engagement and effective communication across both campuses

--Maintaining community between campuses

--Emphasizing a culture of collaboration and tools to help do this, such as shared space on both campus, online meeting tools (such as Zoom), and scheduling SEAS-wide events on both campuses.

This year, the focus will be on filling in the details, completing operating budgets, and leveraging change management tools.

SEAS and Harvard College have also been meeting over the past year to coordinate the transition to an expanded campus and will continue working in 2019-20 on undergraduate student-related issues.

Would you tell me a little about the design of the SEC?

Designed by Behnisch Architekten, the SEC will be an exciting and pleasant place to be. In addition to the world-class research and teaching it will facilitate, it will be LEED Gold, and possibly Platinum (the highest level of sustainability under the worldwide green building certification program). This will be one of the most environmentally- and human-friendly science buildings in the world. There will be plenty of natural light and glass, and the artificial lighting in the building will be circadian in design.

The atrium will span all eight levels and look out onto a terrace of lawn, plantings, and an interim nursery that is to supply trees for future development in the area. There will be a café in the atrium and plenty of other dining options within a short walk. Space has been designed to encourage collaboration, with multiple lounges, meeting rooms, roof decks, community kitchens, and clear sight lines between floors. Shared core research spaces have also been designed to provide space and equipment for 3D printing, molecular and cellular biology, imaging, materials and device characterization. A faculty committee is working to make recommendations as to what equipment to prioritize in the early years. Click here to learn more.

Would you tell me a little about the design of 114 Western Ave?

Designed by Baker Design Group, and also LEED Commercial Interiors Certified, the interior renovation of this existing structure includes new offices for SEAS Administration, classrooms that meet design criteria equivalent with those in the SEC, and finishes and furniture that meet Harvard’s healthy materials requirements. The renovations will be completed prior to the SEC, with a ground-floor childcare facility ready by the end of 2019.

What else is happening in Allston?

In addition to the iLab, LifeLab, LaunchLab, ArtLab, the opening of Klarman Hall at HBS, and Harvard Athletics, plans for an Enterprise Research Campus are in process.

What is the Enterprise Research Campus?

The area known as the Enterprise Research Campus is a Harvard University-owned parcel in Allston Landing North which was previously occupied by CSXT, a transportation company. The University envisions this property as a becoming a non-institutional center for innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship within the City of Boston and the region. In the near future, the area known as Allston Landing South will be transitioning to Harvard control, unlocking additional significant acreage for development. By developing the Enterprise Research Campus, the University will be transforming a previously industrial rail yard into a green, pedestrian-friendly area in Allston for business and research. Given its proximity to Harvard Business School and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), as well as peer universities, healthcare leaders, and Boston’s science and technology sector, the new development area has the potential to become a hub for anchor companies, incubators, startups, and social enterprises.