More Housing in Allston
Toward another apartment complex on Harvard-owned land
At a public meeting on November 30, representatives from developer Samuels & Associates and Elkus Manfredi Architects presented revised plans for a 274-unit residential apartment building at 180 Western Avenue in Allston. The site lies at the intersection of Western Avenue and North Harvard Street known as Barry’s Corner, a short walk from the University’s Science and Engineering Complex and within sight of the location of the recently approved new home for the American Repertory Theater. Harvard’s athletic facilities and Harvard Business School lie to the north, while the local residential neighborhood fans out to the south, making this an important location within the larger context of Harvard’s expansion in Allston. Although the proposed seven-story building is neither owned nor being developed by Harvard, the University owns the land beneath it, which has been leased to the developer on a long-term basis.
In response to community perspectives received during an earlier comment period that ended in August 2023, the proponents have increased the number of affordable units; expanded the range of exterior cladding materials (principally a mix of brick and metal shingles, echoing a project the architect designed for Harvard on Cowperthwaite Street on the Cambridge side of the Charles River); and broken up the massing of the building into three distinct sections as it curves along Western Avenue, around a corner, and onto North Harvard Street. The ground floor along this facade will feature space for retail establishments.
The proposed project, which aims to achieve an LEED Gold rating (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system specifies standards for buildings that conserve resources by lowering energy and water use, that use renewable and recycled materials in construction, and that control erosion and storm water runoff), will be heated and cooled using only electricity. It includes three open spaces, including one publicly accessible at street level, and two for residents on the second floor, where roof terraces will flank an enclosed common area.
The proposed residential project joins two others recently approved in Allston: a University-owned and -operated 276-unit apartment building designed to accommodate about 500 Harvard affiliates that will rise at the rear of a parcel fronting 175 North Harvard Street; and 345 units of commercially-developed residential housing that are being built by Tishman Speyer as part of the University-envisioned enterprise research campus. Together, the three projects represent progress toward addressing Boston’s acute housing shortage by providing 895 new apartments that will accommodate as many as 1,500 residents.