Approaching the i-lab on the walkway from Aldrich and Spangler.
A kitchen lounge and video gaming area.
There’s a small army of workers putting the finishing touches on the Harvard Innovation Lab, which will soon welcome MBA students enrolled in the new first-year FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) course. A tour of the building, the former offices of PBS’s WGBH-TV, shows how dramatic the 10-month transformation has been. A warren of narrow hallways with low ceilings and dark-tinted windows has been replaced by three levels of airy space filled with natural light. The building’s circular flow is echoed by classrooms on the second and third floors known as “hives,” where desks and chairs can be easily moved to facilitate group activities and faculty can teach in the round. Walkways on campus have been widened in anticipation of 900-plus pairs of feet making the march from Aldrich to the i-lab at 125 Western Avenue.
The first floor of the building, dedicated to entrepreneurial activities across the University and in the community, is on a slightly later timeline but is well on its way to completion. The 30,000-square-foot space includes a mix of enclosed rooms and open areas, again with a flexible floor plan. A café that opens onto a patio will provide the necessary caffeine and nourishment to fuel the founders of future start-ups.
The i-lab’s official debut is set for November 18, with appearances scheduled by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. But in true entrepreneurial style, the building’s new life will be well under way before then.