Agassiz House, the grand, columned building that is the focal point of the Radcliffe Yard, will become the new home of Harvard’s Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid beginning in September. The Office of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) will also leave Byerly Hall, relocating to Holyoke Center.
Several rooms on the first floor of Agassiz will be transformed for the public functions of the College admissions office – greeting prospective students and their families, information sessions, interviews, and other services. The administrative operations of admissions and financial aid will move to 86 Brattle St. at the Cronkhite Center (corner of Brattle and Ash streets).
“This is a very positive development for both the College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, and for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences,” said William C. Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “This move will return to Radcliffe facilities necessary to consolidate its activities, and it will provide admissions and financial aid with a historic, beautiful space for greeting future Harvard students and their families. I thank Dean Drew Faust and the Radcliffe staff for all their help in this transition,” Kirby said.
“We are very excited about our new home,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard College dean of admissions and financial aid. “While Byerly Hall has been a comfortable place for us for many years, Agassiz has a stately presence in the historic Radcliffe Yard, which will provide a gracious welcome to Harvard for prospective students.” Further, Fitzsimmons said, the Agassiz and 86 Brattle St. facilities will give the admissions and financial aid operations additional space that was not available in Byerly.
To accommodate visitors to admissions, the first floor of Agassiz House, located on the corner of Mason and James streets, will undergo minor interior renovations. The first floor and ground level of 86 Brattle St. will be renovated as office space. The upper floors will remain graduate student residences.
The administrative offices for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, including GSAS admissions and financial aid operations, will move from Byerly Hall to the third floor of the Holyoke Center, on Massachusetts Avenue, by the fall.
The College admissions and financial aid and GSAS offices have been in Byerly Hall since the mid-1970s in a lease agreement with the Radcliffe Institute that expires in December 2006 in accordance with the terms of the 1999 merger of Harvard and Radcliffe. The Institute plans to house its Fellowship Program in Byerly Hall.
“By moving our fellows into Byerly, we will conclude the final stage of our campus plan to make Radcliffe Yard the core of the Institute’s intellectual activities,” said Louise Richardson, executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute. “We are delighted that the admissions offices’ presence will enhance undergraduate use of Agassiz and continue to bring prospective students to this historic setting. It has been a pleasure to work closely with FAS and GSAS to effect these changes to the mutual benefit of students and fellows.”
Named for Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, first president of Radcliffe College, Agassiz House, designed by A.W. Longfellow and built in 1904, is the most striking building in the Radcliffe Yard. Douglass Shand-Tucci in “Harvard University: The Campus Guide” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001) calls it “the centerpiece of the octagonal climax of Radcliffe Yard.”
While he describes the building’s portico as “imposing,” he says, “The building’s distinction lies really with its interiors, where its beautifully proportioned and almost palatial rooms compel admiration. …”