Harvard University filed an amendment to their institutional master plan with the Boston Redevelopment Authority today, for a new building called the Harvard Life Lab, which would have almost 15,000 sq ft for scientific start-ups.
According to the filing, the project is on existing Harvard-owned property covered by the master plan.
The idea is to build on Harvard Innovation Lab, or i-Lab, which is an entrepereneurship program already located in Allston. Faculty from variopus disciplines advise students and resources for making prototypes are provided. Students would also have access to Harvard’s alumni network.
The Life Lab would be a pilot of a similar program, but with space that can be used for life sciences research. The filing expects that the building would only be used for ten years at most and as a result, Harvard has gone with a prefabricated, modular building. The Life Lab will be on Western Avenue, next to the i-Lab and taking up some of its parking lot.
The filing also states that an additional $20,000 in programming for the Harvard Allston Education Portal will be provided, along with providing Chromebooks for Boston Public School students from Allston-Brighton and an annual ice cream social (no, really!)
While the interest in Allston for start-ups is admirable, it’s unfortuinate in a way because the neighborhood, especially Lower Allston, doesn’t have the physical infrastructure. There’s not a great deal of office or industrial space to house start-ups once they start.
Both Allston Landing parcels (Allston Landing South, which surrounds the Beacon Park Yards is the most familiar, while Allston Landing North is best known as the location of a snow dump from last year) could provide that space, with a reopened Grand Junction connection the Allston Innovation District to Kendall Square and an improved 66 linking Allston to the Longwood Medical Area (where the Harvard Medical School is). But that’s just speculation.