What's the main reason for this project now?
There simply isn't enough room in our current facilities to meet the demands of our 1,900 full-time students and the significant expansion of our research and clinical programs. When benchmarked against other schools of comparable size, Harvard Law School has a shortage of space, particularly student-oriented facilities.
When will the project be complete?
The project is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2011, and be ready for the arrival of students that fall.
How disruptive will it be?
All construction is disruptive to some extent. We have hired some of the most skilled construction teams in the world, and charged them with the task of minimizing that disruption. For example, we have recently installed noise-proofing glass in Pound Hall that dramatically reduces the sounds of construction in this important teaching building. The Harvard University Construction Mitigation office — which has extensive experience in projects on this scale -- will do its utmost to respond to any concerns that arise.
Who's the architect?
We've hired Robert A. M. Stern, Architects, LLP, a 38-year-old New York-based firm with extensive experience in educational facilities. Most recently, the Stern team designed Spangler Hall for the Harvard Business School — a highly successful facility that serves some of the same “gathering-place” purposes that the Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center, Clinical Wing project will serve. Stern's firm conducted the programming and site planning for the WCC, as well as creating the design.
How will the building interact with the neighborhood?
Based on our continuing discussions with our neighbors, we believe that it will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The design includes significant setbacks, both at the sidewalk level and above. It will feature large windows and clearly marked, welcoming entrances. Two unattractive structures — the Everett Street parking garage and the Wyeth Hall dormitory — will be demolished. They are neither architecturally significant nor visually appealing. In addition, the two Victorian-era houses on Mass Ave will be preserved, relocated into a setting that they will enhance the neighborhood, and fully renovated.
Why are more classrooms needed?
There are a number of reasons. Most important was the reduction in the size of the first-year section, which created the need for additional mid-sized classrooms. In addition, we teach far more elective courses than we did a decade ago. We also teach in new ways - for example, using break-out groups in our negotiations classes. And finally, the sweeping curricular reform that the faculty recently approved will create additional first-year courses.
Will there be any classroom innovations?
Yes. Our architect has recommended, and we've approved, the inclusion of two “cluster classrooms,” which combine a traditional classroom with a more modular, break-out seating arrangement.
Why the emphasis on clinical education?
This priority responds to student demand. In 2007, 697 students signed up for clinical education: an all-time high. (The Law School is now the second-largest provider of free legal services in Massachusetts.) In addition, we are adding new clinics: for example, a new Supreme Court clinic. We are determined to provide sufficient appropriate space on campus for clinical education, one of the most important aspects of our curriculum.
Where will student services be located ?
The fourth floor of the WCC complex, along the Mass Ave side, will house all student services — Career Services, the Registrar, and so on — constituting a goal of providing “one-stop shopping.”
How does the project accommodate parking without the Everett Street garage?
The Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center, Clinical Wing project includes a 700-space underground parking garage. This is more than the number of spaces that will be lost when the Everett Street garage comes down, and will permit relocation underground of surface parking spaces on and near the Law School campus.
How does the Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center, Clinical Wing project fit into the bigger HLS campus picture?
The WCC project allows us to intensify space usage, while still protecting open space -- for example, by putting surface parking lots underground. The long-term planning that underlies this project envisions that after this building is completed, a wing of Pound Hall will be removed to create a central Law School "Yard" in the middle of our campus.
How does the project fit with President Faust's Sustainability Goals for Harvard University?
The WCC project is on target to receive LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and is taking steps to promote sustainability during construction by using variable frequency drives on ventilation equipment to reduce energy consumption, limiting site lighting to what is necessary for safety and security to reduce energy consumption, and metering and reporting during construction so that energy use can be measured and additional ways to save energy determine as construction proceeds.