A sun-bright future in Allston

May 26, 2016 at 11:00 am
Illustration by Kathleen M.G. Howlett

Harvard today has an opportunity that is rare for a leading research university: to imagine and build a new community and campus on more than 100 adjacent acres, where new models of teaching, learning, research, and entrepreneurship can flourish.

Harvard’s campus first expanded across the Charles River in 1890, thanks to the donation of 31 acres by Henry Lee Higginson, Class of 1855, a Civil War veteran who named Soldiers Field in memory of his friends and classmates who had died in that conflict. Harvard Stadium and Newell Boathouse were constructed, and academics soon followed on neighboring land with the construction of a campus devoted to the budding school of business administration.

At the dedication of Harvard Business School’s (HBS) campus in 1927, financier and lead benefactor George Fisher Baker noted, “It must be remembered always that the standard of excellence which must be maintained comes not simply from the outside of the buildings, but from the work and training on the inside.”

Baker’s sentiment rings true today, amplified by the interdisciplinary work between campus buildings that has become increasingly vital.

Adjacent to HBS and a short drive to the Longwood Medical Area, the expanded Allston campus will connect various Harvard activities and provide opportunities for collaboration across Greater Boston, which is a world leader in the life sciences, medical science, and technology industries. Allston also will be the home to about two-thirds of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) — just over a decade since its transition from a division to a School within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The University’s investment in Allston reflects rising student and faculty activity in science and engineering. SEAS is the fastest-growing School at Harvard. Since 2008, the number of undergraduate concentrators has tripled — the figure reached nearly 900 this past year — and half of all undergraduates now take at least one computer science course. The School’s 101 faculty, 480 graduate students, and 450 researchers are currently divided among 17 buildings in Cambridge.

The cornerstone of Harvard’s new innovation cluster will be the Science and Engineering Complex, a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility featuring active-learning classrooms, advanced machine shops and fabrication facilities, and laboratory space for faculty and student research. Following the city of Boston’s recent approval to break ground on the nearly 500,000-square-foot complex, work is now underway and the facility is expected to open for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Read the full article in the Harvard Gazette.