Once upon a time, Harvard's Allston expansion was to include reconfigured bridges over the Charles River; lots of new undergraduate housing; a performing-arts pavilion at Barry's Corner; and, perhaps most audaciously, 10 million square feet of new space in total. More than that, it was meant to slake the university's demands for a half-century, a sweeping vision of long-term town-gown planning.
The planning, of course, was drastically scaled back to 1.4 million square feet. Part of the reason was the Great Recession, another part vociferous community opposition to various aspects (what, in Boston?). What's left after all the sturm und drang is, indeed, a large-scale development by Boston standards; but the 10 million-square-foot one would have been large-scale by U.S.—even world—standards. For comparison, the redevelopment of the World Trade Center in Manhattan has been estimated to encompass 14 million square feet.
And, not only has Harvard's Allston footprint shrunk, so has its timetable. The university appears to be looking but a decade out in its planning, instead of a generation or two. Parts of what could have been have given way to seemingly quicker turnarounds as a result. Take the Barry's Corner performing-arts pavilion. That area's now slated for modest residential development in squat buildings. Gone, too, is the plan for an "enterprise research campus," likely modeled on Research Triangle Park, which took a slice of North Carolina and turned it into a world-renowned hub of technology.
Some of this could still happen, Harvard could still pivot. See the map above of the university's plans. See the blank space? Wide open. But it could be a long while.
· Harvard's Big Vision in Allston Gives Way to Too Much Caution [Globe]
· Economic Realities in Allston [Harvard Mag]
· 8 Things to Know About Harvard's Allston Plans [Curbed Boston]
· 1350 Boylston and the Battle for Building Boston [Curbed Boston]
· Barry's Corner Plans in Allston: 325 Apts. in Shorter Buildings [Curbed Boston]
· Our Curbed Could've Been archive [Curbed Boston]