Campus & Community

New spaces for students at FAS

3 min read

By Robert Mitchell

Lamont Library after
Lamont Library takes on a new identity as students burn the midnight oil at Harvard University. (Staff photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office)

Playing is important, too. And a new Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) plan ensures that more space will be devoted to recreational, social, and, of course, study areas for undergraduates. Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William C. Kirby and Harvard College Dean Benedict H. Gross announced today (Sept. 29) that several thousand square feet of space on campus will be renovated. The initiative, which will be funded by the Office of the President, calls for renovation of Hilles, Loker Commons, and some Yard basements, and the creation of a café in Lamont Library.

“A Harvard education has always built on the synergies between students’ academic, extracurricular, social, and residential lives,” said Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History. “These campus renovations are designed to boost these synergies to an even greater extent than before.”

“The College is the heart of Harvard and strengthening the undergraduate experience is a University priority,” said President Lawrence H. Summers. “Along with Deans Kirby and Gross, I am committed to working with students and faculty to identify areas for improvement as well as finding the appropriate resources to make the necessary changes.”

“I am excited that we can move forward with plans to renovate several spaces on campus where students can study, practice, gather, and have fun.” Gross said. “We are very grateful to President Summers for his generous financial support. I am also grateful to Dean Kirby, for his ideas and support of these initiatives,” Gross said.

The plans include renovation of Hilles, located in the Radcliffe Quadrangle. The space, once occupied by a Harvard College library, will provide about 50,000 square feet that student groups can use for office, recreational, and social activities. “This is very exciting,” Gross said. “Our many student groups need this space desperately, and we have the chance to reconfigure it to align with their activities.”

Last year, the library extended the hours of Lamont Library to 24 hours a day, except weekends, and reconfigured the first floor of Hilles as the Quad Library. “Now, we and the library are going a step further toward making Hilles and Lamont premier destinations on campus,” Gross said. “Next academic year we expect to open a café in Lamont where students can study, read, or work online.”

Working with students, the College turned Loker Commons into a pub, on an experimental basis, several times last academic year. The experiment was very successful, and the College will move forward with plans to make the pub a permanent fixture on campus. Building on the success of pub nights, the redesigned Loker Commons should become a popular student nighttime destination. The new Loker will also include practice rooms for student musicians.

The College is exploring ways in which to improve basement spaces in Thayer, Holworthy, and Canaday, as well. The spaces slated for renovation during the coming year will be added to a list of several new and renovated recreational and social facilities either completed or under construction.

They include renovations in the Malkin Athletic Center, as well as upgraded or new recreational spaces in the Houses, thanks to a generous gift of $20,000 to each House from Summers. In addition, a multimillion-dollar renovation of the Hemenway Gymnasium is near completion; a new state-of-the-art dance facility will open in the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center this fall, and construction is well under way on the New College Theatre (Hasty Pudding).