Campus & Community

HRES fetes completion of grad, professional student housing program

4 min read

Harvard Real Estate Services (HRES) Tuesday (Oct. 21) celebrated the completion of an eight-year program to provide housing for approximately 50 percent of the University’s graduate and professional students. The program, which included both new and renovated properties in Cambridge and Boston, provides students with myriad housing options — everything from single-family homes to high-rise traditional residential buildings. Harvard University staff and faculty are also eligible to apply to live in Harvard University Housing.

“This is a proud day for not only Harvard Real Estate Services, but for the many groups within and without the University who worked long and hard with us to create housing and vibrant academic communities for approximately half of our graduate students,” said Jim Gray, associate vice president for HRES. “The Harvard University Graduate Student Housing Initiative began in 2001 under the leadership of Kathy Spiegelman who deserves much of the credit for this very successful program. This truly was a team effort and we could not have done it without the support and contributions of our colleagues in the University Planning Office, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Government and Community Affairs, Budget Office, and Office of Treasury Management and others. We also owe our gratitude to faculty members from several Schools, notably Professor [Peter] Ellison of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who provided us with feedback and leadership, and the community groups and administration of the city of Cambridge. For their work and their commitment to the project, I thank them sincerely.”

Neighborhood partnerships

The University worked in close partnership with the city of Cambridge throughout this process. Properties were designed to fit with the scale of the various neighborhoods and to maximize the public’s view of and access to the Charles River. As part of the housing initiative, the city was granted open space along the Charles River to develop as a park. The project also included the creation of many affordable rental and home ownership opportunities for Cambridge and Boston residents, including:

  • 17 affordable rental units in Harvard @ Trilogy at 170 Brookline Ave. in Boston
  • 6 affordable rental units in a three-story building at 30 Hingham St. in Cambridge
  • 33 affordable condominium units at Switch House in Cambridge
  • 18 affordable condominium units at Pleasant Street in Cambridge


A strong commitment to sustainability was woven into the fabric of this project, with the aim of reducing the University’s carbon footprint. As a result of these efforts, One Western Avenue achieved LEED Silver certification, 5 Cowperthwaite St. achieved LEED Gold certification, and LEED Gold certification is pending for 10 Akron St. Heating and cooling systems were designed to minimize energy use, and everything from lighting to showerheads was chosen with this goal in mind. To help tenants support the University’s sustainability goals, monitors showing real-time energy and water use have been installed in the lobbies of 5 Cowperthwaite St. and 10 Akron St. These monitors enable tenants to see how much energy is being used and to adjust their behavior accordingly.

Graduate Commons Program

Five Cowperthwaite and 10 Akron are home to the University’s new Graduate Commons Program.

Created by Harvard Real Estate Services and the University’s graduate and professional Schools, the program provides a housing experience that balances the needs for privacy and convenience with opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and social interaction outside of the classroom. The intent of this program is to foster a greater sense of community for the University’s graduate student population and to create opportunities for cross-discipline learning and collaboration.

Five Cowperthwaite St. and 10 Akron St. were designed and built to support this program. Both feature common areas where tenants can gather for planned and impromptu gatherings, and each includes a director’s suite so that faculty members who run the program can live on-site. In addition, a program coordinator manages the day-to-day program events.

For more information about Harvard University Housing, please visit