A Campus in a City – A City in A Campus: Harvard and Allston

While Harvard University’s roots are firmly planted in the City of Cambridge, the university now owns more land in the City of Boston.  The slow and strategic acquisition of land between the Harvard Business School, the Charles River, the I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike extension and the residential neighborhoods of Allston have enabled more than 100 contiguous acres of land and a number of other large sites to be assembled as the university grows its educational and research footprint in new, interdisciplinary directions. At the same time, after completing its first comprehensive plan in decades, the City has identified Allston as a key location to channel explosive growth and will leverage the capacity of the institution to engender a new urban district.  This new geography presents a rare opportunity to capitalize on the investment in 21st century public transit and knit together pieces of the city that were severed by the rail and road infrastructures of the 19th and 20th.

This interdisciplinary studio lies at the intersection of architecture, urban design, planning and landscape architecture to transform and grow a new neighborhood in Allston at the intersection of campus and city.  While vast growth continues apace in nearby Kendall Square, the Longwood Medical Area and the South Boston Waterfront, these high concentrations of development for the innovation economy lack resiliency strategies, long term transportation options, vibrant urban spaces and a mix of uses that characterize them as truly livable, urban destinations.  What’s more, as Harvard and Boston’s growth transforms the surrounding context in Allston, creating a host of urban design and planning challenges and opportunities, the campus and the city must change and grow in ways that build on traditions of innovation, but counteract trends that segregate the elite of the innovation economy both physically and socially.  The studio will establish a clear vision for what this 100 acres will become and how the campus and the city can grow in a direction that serves as a catalyst for constructive change.