After 15 months of construction and renovation, Old Quincy House is ready to welcome back students for the 2013-14 academic year.

A first look at the recently completed “test project” in the House renewal initiative revealed a restored exterior, and an interior that has been fundamentally reconfigured to meet the changing needs of students and the rapidly shifting world in which they are learning.

Beyond the physical improvements, the renewal of Old Quincy will enhance the interactions of the students, faculty, and tutors living there while reinvigorating House life, which is one of the most important aspects of learning at Harvard.

“This is absolutely fantastic,” said Dean Michael D. Smith of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who led a sneak peek tour of Old Quincy today. “This space is incredibly comfortable, and it really draws you in. But if you look at the hallways, the rooms, it still has the feel of a typical Harvard House.”

The highlight of the tour was the new, state-of-the-art “smart classroom.”  Situated in what was formerly basement storage space, the classroom is complete with video screens, tablets, mondo pads, cameras, and additional cutting-edge technology, as well as movable desks to encourage collaboration. Six Harvard faculty members will teach courses in the classroom this year.

“The smart classroom is one of the best examples of how we deliberately reconfigured previously unused space to bolster the learning that happens in the House,” Smith said.

New room configurations led to the creation of new study nooks and common spaces. The traditional vertical entries have been preserved, but new horizontal corridors allow tutors to have a closer connection to the students in their charge.

All the wiring and plumbing infrastructure has been updated, and new spaces for meeting, studying, and musical performances have been created in the lower level. A new, fully furnished terrace lounge will provide a comfortable place to watch the big game, and opens to an outdoor patio.

In keeping with Harvard’s commitment to sustainability, the renewal of Old Quincy was completed with a focus on preservation and energy efficiency. Better-insulated walls and windows will significantly cut the energy used to heat the building, and a water-retention tank will help to reduce waste by recycling rainwater for use in irrigation systems and toilets.

“I am very excited to see how the students take over this space, use it, and make it their own,” Smith said.

— Colin Manning, FAS Communications