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The as-yet-undesigned Knafel Center for Government and International Studies (see "Building Boom," January-February 1997, page 58) has already raised the ire of neighbors who fear the proposed structure--parts of it potentially five or six stories high--will destroy the residential feel of the area behind the Design School's Gund Hall in the block bordered by Sumner Road and Kirkland, Cambridge, and Quincy Streets.
The proposed 45,000- to 60,000-square-foot building, with additional space below grade connecting it to Coolidge Hall, will provide "new offices for up to 38 government department faculty as well as approximately 30 additional offices for emeriti, research fellows, and staff," says director of community relations Mary Power, and alleviate a "space shortage that directly impinges on the teaching and scholarship of the economics and government departments." Residents of the neighborhood, however, said in a petition delivered to President Neil L. Rudenstine in January that the new building would bring "excessive traffic, parking, pollution, noise, wind, shadow, and the loss of beauty, vista, green space, history, and character."
The University has been notably forthright with the local community about the Knafel Center project, in sharp contrast to the controversial third-party land acquisitions in Allston disclosed last year (see "Harvard's New Acreage," September-October 1997, page 70). The project was "bound to cause some concern among residents, which is why we were meeting with [them] so early," says Power. An open meeting with the community involving the several architectural firms that have been chosen as finalists in the Center's design-selection process is tentatively scheduled for March. A website with "pre-schematic" scenarios for the project, involving the possible demolition or relocation of several smaller-scale buildings on Sumner Road, and the possible relocation of one of the two Greek Revival houses facing Kirkland Street, may be found at "http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~planning/cgis/".
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