Quad Renovations To Address Overcrowding

Harvard will be creating additional housing in the Radcliffe Quad this summer, Associate Dean of the College for Human Resources and the House System Thomas A. Dingman ’67 said Tuesday.

Nine months after Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles announced that the residential capacity of Pforzheimer House’s Wolbach building could be expanded, Dingman confirmed that between Wolbach and the Jordans, overflow housing for Quad students will house more students after renovations this summer.

“There will be more beds,” said Pforzheimer Co-Master M. Suzanne McCarthy.

The addition of students to Wolbach and Jordan is one attempt to solve a problem that has plagued administrators for years—overcrowding in the Houses.

“In the recent past, fewer and fewer students elect to live off campus,” McCarthy said, due to the “rising cost of housing in Cambridge” and the “advantages of student housing.”

Dingman pointed to the same factors at a meeting with the Undergraduate Coucil on Nov. 12, when he said overcrowding could be alleviated by reducing the number of tutors and visiting scholars in the Houses.

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 said there have been efforts to reduce overcrowding by housing undergraduates in apartment-type housing by the river and converting rental suites used by visiting scholars and others, but he indicated these may not be enough to fix the problem.

“The best prospect for a significant improvement in the present situation is the initiative to increase the number of students studying abroad,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail.

Lewis also said that the College plans to “adjust the number of students assigned to each House so the level of crowding is equalized.”

Another possibility would be to use more land for residential buildings. Dingman said it might be possible to use more of the property Harvard owns in Cambridge—including commercial land—for residential housing.

“We’re always looking for space that Harvard already has that could be used for housing,” Dingman said, “[but we] don’t have a plan.”

Ever since Knowles announced to the Faculty the possibility of adding beds, the topic has been a source of controversy in the House, with some students writing letters to administrators protesting the proposed change.

McCarthy said the addition of more students to Wolbach and Jordan would not come “at the sacrifice of student comfort.”

The final design must be approved by Knowles.

McCarthy and Dingman said the work was driven by the need for renovation and not by the need for beds, particularly in the case of Wolbach.

“It was clear that we couldn’t use [the building] much longer in the state it was in,” McCarthy said.