A building that predates the American Revolution, an antique printing press, a community theater converted from a swimming pool, and a hidden courtyard where students can fire up barbecues and eat strawberries while a string quartet plays on the last day of finals, Adams House is one of Harvard’s quirkiest gems.
With its seven buildings set over three city blocks, Adams will be next up in Harvard’s long-term House renewal project, which has seen Dunster House and Winthrop House fully renewed, and Lowell House’s construction underway, and partial renovations at Quincy and Leverett House.
Beginning next year, Adams will undergo a series of significant renovations that, while preserving its history and notable characteristics, will vastly improve its connectivity and accessibility and add many improvements. Ideas for the renovated design plan were unveiled in a House community meeting on Tuesday, when architects presented detailed renderings and answered questions from Adams students, tutors, and faculty deans. Construction is to begin in the summer of 2019.
Among Adams’ treasured assets to be preserved will be the pool theater in Westmorly Court, the Coolidge Room and elliptical stairs in Randolph Hall, the Claverly Hall common and lobby, and the FDR Suite, where future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived as an undergraduate at the turn of the 20th century.
“I’m so excited to see Adams House go through the renewal process,” said Mike Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). “Renewal isn’t just about accessibility and expanded common areas, though those things are clearly important. It’s just as much about engaging the House in thinking about what makes the community unique, what makes it Adams House. It’s great to see the Adams personality coming through in the designs that will be the future of the House.”
During the planning process, administrators will continue to solicit student feedback through discussions and meetings. Among the most frequent responses in initial meetings were interest in maintaining the House’s warm, quirky, and regal characteristics; a desire for updated amenities such as workout spaces, student kitchens, and residential areas; expanded dining and meeting spaces; appropriately sized common areas and dining hall; and special attention for the complex’s unique features, such as the tunnel murals through the basements that connect the buildings.