Harvard Plans Second House Renewal Test Project
Construction on McKinlock Hall at Leverett House Could Begin as Early as June 2013
Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Dean Michael D. Smith and Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds announced today (Dec. 8) that McKinlock Hall, the neo-Georgian section of Leverett House, is being considered as the site of the second of two test projects exploring design and construction options for future systemwide House renewal. The renewal at Leverett McKinlock would follow the Old Quincy test project at Quincy House, construction for which is scheduled to begin in June 2012.
“House renewal is an exciting and ambitious project that aims to optimize historic House spaces to support the College’s extraordinary living and learning model,” said Smith, John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Given the scale of the project and the centrality of the House system to the student experience at Harvard, it is critical that we carefully test design concepts before launching a systemwide effort. In the Old Quincy test project, we were able to focus our efforts on the design of residential spaces, which comprise more than 75 percent of spaces within the Houses. The Leverett McKinlock test project will enable us to explore for the first time design approaches for a dining hall and a masters’ residence. The lessons we learn from these two test projects will provide valuable experience and will inform guidelines that can then be applied across the neo-Georgian Houses.”
Smith and Hammonds emphasized the importance of maintaining the historic character of the Houses, while also enhancing them to accommodate 21st-century concepts of teaching and learning in a residential community.
“House renewal is an effort that will affect every member of the Harvard College community, today and for generations to come,” said Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. “We must maintain the careful balance between preserving the historic character and culture of each House and renewing them to better support the ways students live and learn today. As part of this process, we must ensure that we involve the members of the House community — from tutors and resident deans to House staff, masters, and students — as we develop our vision for the future.
“As we did with the planning for the renewal of Old Quincy and for the development of swing space, we will collaborate with faculty, students, and staff throughout the Harvard community to develop and validate our plans for Leverett McKinlock,” Hammonds continued. “The Old Quincy and swing-space feedback groups have been instrumental in our efforts. Similar feedback groups, chaired by Leverett House Masters Howard and Ann Georgi, will play a similarly important role. I want to thank Howard and Ann, as well as Quincy House Masters Lee and Deb Gehrke, for all the work they’ve already invested in this effort.”
Leverett House consists of three buildings, two 12-story towers, and the neo-Georgian McKinlock Hall. Unlike the Old Quincy, McKinlock includes both a dining hall and the masters’ residence. The plan assumes that the FAS and the College will close McKinlock for 15 months — or one academic year plus the summers before and after — beginning in June 2013.
Under current plans, the approximately 180 students in McKinlock would live in swing space during the construction year. However, the dining hall would be open during the academic year, with construction occurring over a summer.
Though no timeline for systemwide House renewal has been set, Smith again noted that timing would be tied directly to the availability of funding.
“As we test construction concepts, we are also testing financing models,” Smith said. “While much of the advance planning for systemwide renewal is already under way, no final decisions about moving forward can be made until funding for the project is in place.”