Townhall Meeting Gives Low-Down on NW Corner

BY KATIE MAPES

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Construction on the Northwest Corner Project is proceeding apace, Mark Johnson, Harvard’s Director of Major Capital Projects and Physical Planning, told students at a town-hall style meeting on Tuesday, February 19. Johnson praised the project’s architectural firm, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, and showed a number of computer generated images projecting both the interior and exterior of the completed project.

The Northwest Corner Project, when completed, will front on Massachusetts Ave. and Everett St., and connect to both Pound Hall and Harkness Commons. It will contain classrooms, student organization offices, student services, clinical programs, and a new pub, meant particularly to take some of the strain of other dining facilities. The project also includes a 700-space parking underground garage meant to compensate for the destruction of the Everett Street lot. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2011. In the meantime, the law school hopes to minimize the effects of construction on the student population.

Johnson discussed several particular features of the new project. For instance, the project is certified by the United States Green Building Council as part of their LEED – or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Green Rating System, a program which certifies both new construction and existing projects based on environmentally friendly design features they incorporate.

Similarly, two of the classrooms in the new building – both mid-sized lecture halls – are designed both to minimize the space between students in the back rows and the instructor and to facilitate group work and discussion between students.

Johnson also addressed the two Victorian-era houses that had been located on Massachusetts Avenue next to Pound Hall and which were moved last summer up the street and placed near North Hall. The houses will be remodeled back into living space and become dorms and apartments. Johnson argued that the houses are actually more architecturally congruent in their new location – which is in the midst of similar houses owned by Lesley University and local residents – than they were previously.

Finally, Johnson discussed the “top-down” construction method being used to construct the new building. In order to stabilize the building’s underground levels, support walls are constructed first, followed by the construction of the roof slab. Finally, the interior of the structure is excavated with the support already in place.

Students concerned about construction can find periodic updates on the Harvard Construction Mitigation website, at http://www.construction.harvard.edu. They can also call the construction mitigation hotline at 617-496-0857, or e-mail nwcorner@law.harvard.edu. After hours phone calls about construction related emergencies should be directed to 617-495-5560.

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