Randolph Hall courtyard .

Randolph Hall courtyard at Adams House.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Reopened Randolph Hall has strong sense of community

4 min read

Second phase of Adams House renewal offers gathering spaces in courtyard, lounges, and study rooms

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, groups of Adams House residents sat in the Randolph Hall courtyard doing homework at café tables or relaxing in hammocks. Just inside, other students video chatted in “the phone booths,” small private study rooms on the ground floor. In a music practice room down the corridor, Chris Ruiz ’26 played piano.

For Ruiz, whose primary instrument is the trumpet, the practice room is one of the best new spaces in the hall, which reopened this summer after years of renovations that began in 2019 as part of the Harvard Undergraduate House Renewal Program. With enough space for several musicians and outlets for plugging in amps, Ruiz called it a great spot for future jam sessions with his blockmates.

Chris Ruiz ’26 in music room.

Chris Ruiz ’26 said the practice rooms are perfect for jam sessions with his fellow musicians.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

“I was really grateful that I got placed in Randolph, I’m super excited to be here,” he said. “The Adams House community seems really strong so far. All the spaces are for the purpose of occupying them with a sense of community.”

The re-opening of Randolph Hall marks the completion of the second phase of Adams House renewal. The first phase, Claverly Hall, was completed in 2021, followed quickly by Apthorp House, the faculty deans’ residence. The third and final phase, which includes Russell Hall, the library commons, and Westmorely Court, is currently underway and expected to be complete by summer 2025.

“I am excited to see students return to Randolph Hall,” said Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College. “The completion of this portion of House Renewal represents significant progress on this journey and serves as a reminder that all of us at Harvard remain deeply committed to the necessary work to renew these historic buildings in support of our students’ residential experience.”

The goal in renovating the circa-1897 building was to improve accessibility, sustainability and fire safety, reduce overcrowding, and add common areas that build a sense of community while maintaining the unique character and historic feel.

President Claudine Gay looking at common space.
Coolidge Room in Randolph Hall at Adams House.

President Claudine Gay overlooks the common spaces in the renovated hall. Original artwork in the Coolidge Room was carefully preserved.

Photos by Jon Chase and Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographers

On the upper floors, where vertical entryways once limited horizontal travel through the building, long corridors now stretch the full length of the hall, lined with tall windows that overlook the courtyard. Downstairs, the Korngold Family Lounge has a foosball table, student kitchen, fitness center, and art room that offers more space for students to gather and pursue their interests. The hall’s most beloved study and meeting spaces, the Heaney Suite and the Coolidge Room, underwent improvements but remain preserved with original artwork.

“It’s super cute,” said Nick Chehwan ’25, a Randolph resident who was housed in the former Inn at Harvard building last year while renovations were ongoing. “The thing that I like the best about it is the courtyard, because we finally have green space with hammocks outside.”

For Adams House resident Merlin D’souza ’25, who moved back to campus three days early as a peer advising fellow, checking out Randolph’s renovations was a top priority for her and her roommate.

“That was the first thing we did, we unpacked and then we went to explore Randolph, to see the new space,” said D’souza. “Our Adams House faculty deans have been talking about the renovations for over half a semester, so we were excited to see it.”

D’souza said she is looking forward to working in Randolph Hall’s study spaces, especially the Coolidge Room and the phone booths, which have an “old-timey” charm that she says makes her feel connected to Harvard’s past.

Merlin D’souza ‘25 relaxes in one of the new hammocks set up in the courtyard.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Merlin D’Souza ‘25

“You can tell that the designers have really put in a lot of thought and care about having choices and options for students on the different floors and in different spaces,” said Adams House Faculty Dean Mercedes Becerra, Jeffrey Cheah Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The faculty deans chose “the written word” as the art theme for the building, in honor of notable writers who attended Harvard or lived or worked in Randolph throughout history, including Seamus Heaney, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost. Framed calligraphy in Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, Hebrew, and other languages decorate the walls, as well as framed photographs of student mural art from the Adams House tunnels.

“These are special spaces,” said Faculty Dean Salmaan Keshavjee, professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School. “As you walk through this building, you think ‘This is a beautiful space to live and learn.’”