Campus & Community

Undergrad Houses to be renovated

2 min read

Following a comprehensive assessment, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will begin planning a major renovation of Harvard University’s undergraduate residential Houses. The renovations, a significant, long-term project that is anticipated to involve all 12 Houses, will unfold over 15 years.

In the fall of 2007, phase one of a facility-condition assessment was completed for four of the Houses; phase two of the assessment will determine the condition of the remaining eight. Many of the Houses are more than 80 years old. While they were well designed and constructed, and have been well maintained, numerous systems are worn from decades of day-to-day use.

Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, is appointing a House Program Planning Committee (HPPC) to examine the mission and purpose of House life and to develop an architectural plan for the House system. The committee includes students, faculty, and staff.

Chairing the committee is Evelynn Hammonds, who begins her tenure as dean of Harvard College June 1. Hammonds is the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies and senior vice provost for Faculty Development and Diversity.

Committee co-chair will be David R. Pilbeam, current dean of Harvard College and Henry Ford II Professor of Human Evolution.

“The House system is a hallmark of the undergraduate experience at Harvard,” says Smith. “It is vital that these buildings support the intellectual, cultural, and social programming of the Houses, and allow these communities to flourish as models for the integration of the academic and the residential experience.”

As the renovations progress, both the House communities and the broader Harvard community will be consulted, and feedback will be integrated during this planning phase.

The HPPC will propose guidelines and principles for the planning and architecture of the House renovations. Architects will assist the committee in determining the feasibility of the proposed programs. The committee will complete a strategic plan along with a financial plan to present to President Drew Faust and the Harvard Corporation by December 2008.