Harvard Explained


Contrary to popular belief, the one-inch holes that pattern the concrete walls of Mather House were not designed to allow Dunster House to breathe when it was shipped to Harvard using Mather as a box. Mather House was designed by the oldest architectural firm in Boston—Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson and Abbot—which also built Sever Hall along with Boston landmarks such as South Station and the Boston Public Library. So why this sudden (not to mention short-lived) desire to leave unfinished concrete pockmarked by identical one-inch holes? Concrete was the building material because of its “riot-proof” nature—an attractive asset after the events of the 1960’s. According to Mather Co-Master Sandra Naddaff ’75, the holes, which are a product of the mold into which concrete was poured, are actually meant to be decorative. While their success in serving this purpose is clearly debatable from an aesthetic standpoint, they have been put to use by the artistically talented to display small and bizarre objects, the musically misguided who hunger for the popping noise made by the sound of a flat palm on hollow concrete and the alcoholically-inclined who have discovered that the holes are the exact size and shape as the cap of a beer bottle.

What is the Harvard policy on the number of doors between a student’s room and the street?

The dorms are designed so that there are two locked doors between a student in his or her room and the street. This assumes that these doors are kept closed and locked, as advised by the HUPD and the College. The administration reminds us that bypassing this policy by leaving doors unlocked or propping them open compromises safety.