Board of Appeals Permits Low Ceilings in New House

One major difficulty in the way of Harvard's eighth House was removed yesterday, when the Cambridge Board of Appeals obligingly waived a city housing regulation requiring a minimum ceiling height of eight feet for all rooms in dwelling houses.

Bypassing the board's established procedure, Chairman James J. Walsh consulted his two colleagues and granted the University's petition while the hearing in the City Council chamber was still going on.

Arguing that the University is trying to "comply with the spirit of the housing code" even though it plans to build dormitory rooms seven and a half feet high were Robert T. Holloran, an architect for the firm of Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson & Abbot; and Henry J. Muller, Deputy Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds.

Holloran contended that most cities, such as Boston, have kept in line with the modern architectural trend by changing or waiving their building regulations. One member of the board remarked in agreement that before the Hotel Commander was built, the code specified ceilings eight and a half feet high. "I have been lowering ceilings for 30 years," he stated.

The University's request is justified, Holloran maintained, because of the improved heating and ventilation facilities planned for the new House. He explained that the living room windows will take up three-quarters of the width of outward wall space.

Rooms for "recreation and congregating," as well as the dining rooms, will have higher ceilings, Holloran added. He concluded by saying that "there is a definite economic factor in favor of lower ceilings."