Letter from President Faust to Allston Neighbors

Dear Neighbor,

For the past four years, members of the Harvard community have worked both internally—with faculty, students, and staff—and externally—with community members, elected officials, developers, and city planning and development staff—to craft and hone an updated vision for Harvard’s next steps in Allston.

I am pleased to report that we have together accomplished a great deal within this framework, and that the months and years ahead promise to be ones of exciting development and transformation in Allston.

Last evening, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved the University’s Institutional Master Plan, the planning framework that lays out the projects the University anticipates completing in the next decade. The projects are diverse: encompassing new or renovated buildings at Harvard Business School, on the Athletics campus, and in Barry’s Corner. They are complementary: for example the retail offerings envisioned in the Gateway building will support the new residents in Barry’s Corner, and the faculty, students, and staff in the Science building; the hotel and conference center will be an important complement to the new Executive Education buildings at the Business School and to the growing presence of engineering and applied science on Western Avenue. Taken together, and considered alongside the Science building soon to be back underway on Western Avenue and the residential and retail complex soon to break ground at Barry’s Corner, the program represents important progress towards the long-term vision of a more integrated, expansive, and lively presence for Harvard on both sides of the Charles.

Our plans came together drawing on the contributions of many people, over many meetings, over months and years. The Harvard Allston Task Force deserves special recognition and thanks for their guidance, input, and critical questions along the way. Since Harvard submitted its Institutional Master Plan Notification Form in October 2012, the Task Force has held more than 20 community meetings with Harvard and City representatives, and our plan is better for it.

For our part, these planning efforts have been guided by important overarching principles:

  • Just as we increasingly talk of “one Harvard” in our academic and administrative planning, we must think in terms of “one campus,” planning for spaces in Cambridge and Allston in a simultaneous and integrated way, and strengthening connections between one side of the river and the other.
  • Harvard’s expanding presence in Allston should create and leverage opportunities for collaboration across schools, fields, and disciplines, and forge connections with partners beyond the campus community.
  • Our belief in education as a means to human fulfillment should guide our broad and deep engagement with families and organizations in Allston, and guide our community-focused investments.

The planning framework adopted this week reinforces these principles. It also builds on other important efforts undertaken over the past three years, including the continued growth and expansion of the Ed Portal and Ed Portal Annex, the relocation of Charlesview Apartments to a beautiful new facility up Western Avenue, and successful leasing efforts that have brought tenants like Stone Hearth Pizza, swissbäkers, Earth Watch, The Silk Road Foundation, and dozens of other businesses or organizations to Allston.

As I remarked last month at the launch of the Harvard Campaign, what we can be depends fundamentally on the spaces we create, renew, and inhabit. We must shape our campus for the next century with spaces that encourage collaboration, spaces that spur experimentation, that foster connections between Harvard’s boundlessly imaginative people and infinitely varied parts.

The campaign will provide the momentum we need for further developing our Allston property as an integral part of Harvard. It will allow our School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—Harvard’s newest School—room to grow in a state-of-the-art facility on Western Avenue. It will enhance collaborations across disciplines and Schools and encourage connections among the University, the community, and new partners in industry and research. I truly believe that no institution of higher education has a more exciting opportunity for innovative growth, in an intellectual and entrepreneurial environment as dynamic as we have in Boston and Cambridge.

During the six years I’ve served as Harvard’s president, I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting many of you at the Ed Portal, Honan Library, and the Farmer’s Market. I’ve celebrated with you at the dedication of Mellone Park and enjoyed learning about the work of community non-profits supported through the Harvard Allston Partnership Fund program. I hope many of you come to the stadium tomorrow to cheer on the Crimson at the Community Day football game, and look forward to deepening connections and forging new ones as we together watch our hopes and dreams for Allston take shape in the years ahead.

With best wishes,
Drew Faust