Harvard Designates Tishman Speyer as Preferred Developer for Initial Phase of Enterprise Research Campus in Allston

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Conceptual rendering of a portion of the University's Enterprise Research Campus. Courtesy of Tishman Speyer

ALLSTON, MA – The Harvard Allston Land Company (HALC) has designated Tishman Speyer as the preferred developer for the initial phase of Harvard University’s Enterprise Research Campus (ERC) in Allston.

Led by President and CEO Rob Speyer, Tishman Speyer is a global developer of large, complex, mixed-use projects and is best known for innovative approaches to architecture, placemaking, interior design, sustainability, healthy live-work environments, and leading-edge tenant amenities.

The architect selected to lead the project is Jeanne Gang, who graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1993 with a master’s in architecture degree, and is founding principal of Studio Gang, an international architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

Gang, a MacArthur Fellow who was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2019, has received numerous accolades over the years and in 2017 was named as the Architectural Review Woman Architect of the Year. Tishman Speyer’s previous collaborations with Gang include residential projects in San Francisco and Brooklyn, as well as the Mission Rock project in San Francisco.  Gang has also done work on the University of Chicago’s campus and on O’Hare International Airport.

The ERC is located on Western Avenue, adjacent to Harvard’s new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), and across the street from Harvard Business School (HBS), and will be a cornerstone of Harvard’s commitment to enhance the area in ways that align with its teaching and research mission. It will be a center for innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship, bringing together partners from across greater Boston and beyond.

“Tishman Speyer will bring to Allston a wealth of experience shaped by extraordinary work around the world, and we look forward to the further development of the Enterprise Research Campus,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “The convergence of art, business, and engineering in a new urban district will create opportunities for creativity and innovation that will drive achievements in research that none of us can imagine.”

Harvard envisions that the ERC will seamlessly integrate into the emerging corridor of creativity along Western Avenue, and that will contribute to a thriving neighborhood which is home to academia and education, engaging public and community spaces, and the arts and sciences in ways that drive economic growth and innovation.

Tishman Speyer was chosen because its proposal reflected a commitment to many of the goals set out by HALC in its initial request for proposals, namely: a strong focus on bold and innovative architecture; attention to creating a robust, sustainable public realm; an ability to include affordable housing that exceeds municipal requirements; a focus on creating a space for life-science and tech start-ups to flourish; a diverse and experienced development team;  and assurances that the firm is committed to ensuring project equity for minority investors.

“The ideas and concepts put forth by the Tishman Speyer team were very much in line with the local Allston community’s, the City’s, and the University’s goals for the neighborhood, as well as advanced and forward-thinking.  Their focus on these shared goals and aspirations will result in an innovative ERC—that will complement the cutting-edge institutional research and teaching taking place at Harvard and throughout the region, and that can be integrated into the already-thriving community,” said Nitin Nohria, Chair of the Board of HALC and Dean of the Harvard Business School.

“From the outset, Tom Glynn (CEO of HALC) and the Board members of the Harvard Allston Land Company have presented a clear, compelling and unique vision,” commented Tishman Speyer President and CEO Rob Speyer. “This project will combine the best in real estate with the best in science to help entrepreneurs and researchers make life-changing discoveries. And it will do this while supporting the neighborhood’s residents, further strengthening existing businesses and diversifying the region’s economy.  We are proud to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a flagship for innovation at the center of a thriving, community-focused mixed-use development.”

Tishman Speyer sees opportunity in what it calls “a symbiosis between the ERC’s historic neighbors, the global innovation community and Harvard’s vision.”

The firm said its plan for the ERC is to create buildings and open spaces that are configured to simultaneously maximize user comfort and offer a diverse mix of program potential.  Its proposal says it will focus on creating social infrastructure that promotes “inclusivity, shared experiences, collaboration and human happiness…where cultural identity is expressed and authentically celebrated.”

One potential building, dubbed the “Treehouse,” would serve as a welcoming front door to the ERC, and would reimagine the concept of a traditional hotel and conference center as a “hyper-social building for local, regional and global populations.”

“Capturing the spirit of innovation of the Enterprise Research Campus, our design will transform a former industrial site into a fertile new ground for the exchange of ideas and creative expression. We envision a neighborhood brought to life with low-carbon buildings and resilient green spaces that foster community and connect people to their natural environment,” said Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang Founding Principal and Partner.

Echoing Harvard’s strong commitment to sustainability and resiliency, Tishman Speyer says the ERC will be designed to be a leader in substantiality. Each ERC building will be designed to achieve a USGBC LEED Gold rating.

Tishman Speyer’s proposal also calls for a dynamic and diverse residential community, with the ability to exceed the City’s affordable housing thresholds and include additional livability elements.

Tishman Speyer says that “true and authentic equity and inclusion” will be the foundation of the team and the project itself. It has assembled a diverse team with broad global, national and local perspectives, and says it is “deeply committed to a work environment that promotes a diverse workforce, with different views and perspectives, and an expectation that leaders and employers alike demonstrate unflagging support for diversity and inclusion practices.” Tishman Speyer has committed to allocating five percent of the project equity to minority investors.

Another of HALC’s stated charges for the ERC developer selection process was to create space for startup companies to grow and foster innovation. To help realize that goal, Tishman Speyer plans on partnering with LabCentral, a leading provider of shared laboratory spaces for high-potential life-sciences and biotech start-up s in the Boston area. LabCentral has been an operating partner the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab since 2016.

The entire ERC consists of 36 acres off of Western Avenue in Allston. The initial phase is for a 14-acre portion that has already received initial regulatory approval for 900,000 sf from the Boston Planning and Development Agency in March 2018, and includes plans for lab/office space, residential space, and a hotel and conference center, all of which will contribute to a vibrant and active neighborhood.

“Over the next several months HALC and Tishman Speyer will be working with the local community, elected officials and City Hall to develop and refine a project proposal so that it can be shared and formally submitted for review,” said Thomas Glynn, CEO of HALC. “While a lot of necessary, expected work still remains to be done, we’re incredibly excited about this today’s announcement – an important next step in realizing Harvard’s vision for the ERC.”

While the Tishman Speyer team has developed initial thinking and offered preliminary concepts and designs, there is no formal proposed project at the present time, nor any identified tenants.

Tishman Speyer has a large, diverse portfolio of projects locally, nationally and across the globe. It currently owns and operates more than 3 million square feet of space in Boston and has two projects in the city, including Pier4, a mixed-use project in the Seaport, and 105 West First Street, a life-science lab, also in the Seaport.

Other projects include Rockefeller Center in New York City, Mission Rock in San Francisco, and the Sony Center in Berlin, Germany.

As planning advances in the ERC, Harvard and the Tishman Speyer team will work collaboratively to recruit idea-intensive businesses that have a natural synergy with the mission-driven scholarship that’s going on by Harvard’s faculty and students in Allston. This will further strengthen and expand partnerships across Greater Boston’s thriving ecosystem of innovation that includes Boston University, MIT, Harvard and other associated teaching hospitals, and innovative companies and investors throughout the region.