Old Quincy Test Project
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.
Michael D. Smith
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Conceived by President A. Lawrence Lowell in the 1920s, Harvard’s House system set the standard for residential liberal arts education in the United States—and has since become the cornerstone of undergraduate life at Harvard. Harvard’s 12 residential Houses are much more than places to eat and sleep. They are also home to a strong network of mentors and friends—in the form of faculty House Masters, resident deans, and graduate student tutors and proctors—who provide around-the-clock support for the academic, social, and extracurricular pursuits of undergraduates.
More than 80 percent of the buildings making up the House system were built 80 to 100 years ago. House Renewal is an ambitious project that aims to optimize House spaces to support the College’s extraordinary living and learning model, as well as to meet the needs of today’s students. It is an opportunity to envision the House experience for the next 100 years, while maintaining the best of our historic character and culture.
The design maintains much of the historic fabric of the building, while reconfiguring the space in important ways. First, it introduces a hybrid circulation that combines the traditional Harvard “vertical” entryways with horizontal hallways to connect students and encourage community on the floor level. The new circulation also allows for well-defined tutor communities. A combination of room clusters and suites introduces more single bedrooms and provides enhanced privacy. The introduction of two elevators makes the building 100% “visitable” by wheelchair and all bathrooms are accessible. The renewed Old Quincy includes a variety of technology-enabled spaces, ranging from quiet individual study spaces to a “smart classroom” to larger House- and student-programmed spaces. Complementing these learning spaces is a large multi-purpose room and terrace for recreation and social events. Music practice spaces for both individuals and ensembles are also provided.
Schematic designs were finalized in the spring of 2011 with input from a feedback group consisting of students, faculty and House staff drawn from across Harvard’s Houses and freshmen dorms. In the fall of 2011, plans will be submitted for approval to move from the design phase of the project to construction and Harvard then expects to begin renovation work on Old Quincy shortly after commencement in 2012.
Quincy House consists of two buildings, Old and New Quincy. Old Quincy, about half the size of most of Harvard’s 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 that Old Quincy House will close 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, made up of properties owned by Harvard University Housing. 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.
Once completed, the Old Quincy Test Project will provide a glimpse of the future of Harvard’s House system, offering a locus for the greater Harvard community’s conversation about the place of the House system in the 21st century liberal arts education.