Harvard President Drew Faust formally announced today that the university would halt construction of its state-of-the-art science complex in Allston in early spring after the first phase winds down.warned in February that the pace of its expansion across the river would be slowed given the university's financial troubles. Amid the recession, Harvard's endowment has dropped 27 percent to $26 billion.
"The altered financial landscape of the university, and of the wider world, necessitates a shift away from rapid development in Allston, and thus requires a simultaneous commitment to a program of active stewardship of Harvard properties,'' Faust wrote in a letter to the community today.
The Harvard Corporation, the university's governing body, reviewed options for the complex this week, and decided to delay the next phase of construction while continuing to examine future possibilities, Faust said in her letter. The first phase of construction -- completing the foundation and bringing the structure to ground level -- is expected to be finished by spring 2010.
The below-grade structure encompasses 8,000 tons of structural steel and spaces for laboratory support and power generation. Street-level concrete deck is nearing completion, Faust said.
"The delay will in no way slow Harvard's significant momentum in the life sciences," Faust wrote.
Stem cell researchers who were scheduled to move into the science complex by the original 2011 opening have been relocated to renovated laboratory space on Harvard's Cambridge campus. While the university is trying to lease its vacant properties in Allston -- amid criticism from neighbors who accuse Harvard of landbanking and leaving the area pockmarked with empty lots and storefronts -- Faust admits that Harvard must do more.
Harvard is committed to converting the number of its properties, currently reserved for construction support, to leasable buildings, and investing in improvements to make them more attractive to prospective tenants, she said. It will also offer more long-term lease options, up to 10 years.
(Photo courtesy of Harvard University: A current view of the construction site.)
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