Our Work

Building Bridges of Collaboration Across the River

  • Harvard University
Client Type
  • Higher Education

Boston, MA

Practice Areas
  • Transformative Real Estate

Harvard University

A Center of Gravity for a Campus Extension


Harvard University’s Offices of the Provost and Executive Vice President engaged U3 Advisors to develop a vision for a University-wide conference center as one component of their expanding presence in Allston – the Boston neighborhood across the Charles River from their historic Cambridge campus. Through surveys and interviews, U3 gathered data from individual Harvard schools and business units in order to assess demand and price sensitivity for convening space and related lodging. U3 supplemented the school data with information from local hotel operators about Harvard-generated demand, their relationships with the University, and the broader lodging landscape. U3 also conducted a peer benchmarking and best practices exercise, meeting with a select set of academic and corporate organizations to identify key considerations in facility design, development, and operations. Integrating the two work streams, U3 provided Harvard’s central administration with several significant options for developing a University-wide conference and hotel facility – as well as a range of challenges, including significant variation in price sensitivity across Harvard schools. The University is continuing to evaluate options for what may be one of the most significant University-wide real estate projects in decades.


Develop a vision for and assess the feasibility of a prospective conference center and hotel to be located on Harvard University’s growing campus in the Allston neighborhood of Boston.


U3 conducted both a quantitative and qualitative examination of Harvard’s conferencing, meeting, and social event needs and how they might be met on the Allston campus. We also conducted a market study of the local hotel market, as well as a study of best practices and benchmarked peer institutions of similar projects.

This resulted in the development of facility programming options and an overall vision for the contemplated center. Subsequently, U3 developed a dynamic model to test different scenarios of demand, pricing, and other variables. This allowed Harvard to generate several potential building programs and pro forma financial statements.


Harvard is well on its way to bringing this project vision to life and recently hired a Conference Center Project Director to advance planning efforts.