Deans Smith and Hammonds To Use Old Quincy as House Renewal Test Project
Construction on Old Quincy Slated for 2012
Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Dean Michael D. Smith and Harvard College Dean Evelynn Hammonds today (Jan. 14, 2011) announced that Old Quincy House will be used as a test project to explore design and construction options for a future system-wide House renewal project.
“The Houses are the cornerstone of the Harvard undergraduate experience,” said Dean Smith, John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Even during the financial difficulties of the last two years, we have moved ahead with planning for system-wide House renewal, which aims to configure this beloved institution for the future. We want to ensure that the Houses remain the powerful, generative places they have always been for Harvard students, and we’re excited to get a chance to test a part of our vision in Old Quincy.”
Dean Smith said that Old Quincy’s size and neo-Georgian architecture will enable planners to learn lessons that can be applied to other buildings.
“We want to preserve the historic character and the culture of our Houses, while renewing the House life experience as a part of a 21st century approach to liberal arts education,” he said. “The Old Quincy test project allows us to do just that, informing guidelines for renewal across the Houses. Over the winter and spring, we will develop final plans for the test project. In the fall of 2011, we will present the Corporation with the funding plan for moving from the design phase of the project to construction and, with their consent, expect to begin renovation work on Old Quincy shortly after commencement in 2012.”
Quincy House consists of two buildings, Old and New Quincy. Old Quincy House, about half the size of most of the neo-Georgian Houses and without its own dining hall or master’s residence, provides a valuable opportunity to test design concepts, while limiting disruption of the House community. The plan assumes the FAS and the College will close Old Quincy House for 15 months — or one academic year plus the summers before and after — beginning in June 2012. Affected students will reside in nearby “swing” space, potentially properties owned by Harvard Real Estate Services (HRES). The approximately 180 students will remain part of the Quincy House community throughout the project, and will continue eating in the dining hall in New Quincy.
“As intergenerational communities of living and learning, the Houses are the cornerstone of a Harvard College education,” said Dean Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. “Getting this right for today and for tomorrow requires planning and the involvement of people throughout the College community. To that end, we will be working with Quincy House Masters Lee and Deborah Gehrke and Leverett House Master Howard Georgi to solicit feedback on the designs from a group of faculty, students, and staff who are deeply involved in House life.”
To prepare for the test project, FAS retained the architectural firm KieranTimberlake last spring. Last summer, the firm surveyed Old Quincy to get a better sense of the structure and how it conforms to existing architectural plans. The information acquired through this work enabled the architects to develop building-specific designs. Over the winter, the input from various House constituencies will be incorporated as plans are finalized. In the spring, a formal committee will examine issues related to programming for the swing space, and how students in that space can remain connected to the larger Quincy House community.
Though no timeline for system-wide House renewal has been set, Dean Smith made it clear that timing would be tied directly to the availability of funding.
“In preparation for this project, we have identified a funding plan composed of a mix of University investment and donor support,” Smith said. “The upcoming University campaign will be critical to our ability to enlist the donor support we would need to launch the larger project of renewing all the Houses. As was true when the Houses were built, this project will require philanthropy on a transformational scale.
“The renewal, both physically and programmatically, of Harvard’s House system is of critical importance to the future of this institution,” Smith concluded. “While this is a long and complicated process, the results will ensure that the House system remains a strong and vibrant aspect of a College education for decades to come.”