Students and College administrators met with architects last Friday
afternoon to discuss the future aesthetics and development of the
soon-to-be vacated spaces in the basements of Canaday, Holworthy, and
Over 3,000 square feet of space in the three freshmen
dormitories will undergo renovations this summer, after most student
groups relocate their offices from the Yard basements to the revamped
Among the 30 groups who currently hold basement space, the
Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, the First-Year
Outdoor Program, several peer counseling groups, and the Harvard
Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA)
will keep their current basement offices, according to Frano Violich,
an architect from the firm that will conduct the renovations of both
the Yard basements and the Hilles building.
The Harvard Islamic Society, which currently has a prayer
room located in Canaday basement, is also likely to retain its space,
and the new women’s center will establish its headquarters in one of
the basement offices as well, Resident Dean of Freshmen Leslie N. Barth
During the meeting, three representatives from Kennedy and
Violich Architecture, Ltd. presented before and after schematics of the
Yard basement space and solicited suggestions from students about what
the space should include.
Ricky B. Shah ’09 said that the aesthetics of the new social
space are crucial to “establishing identity” and should contribute to a
feeling of “homey-ness.”
“First impressions are really key here,” Violich said. “We need to design something that’s lasting and well-used.”
Zachary A. Y. Pollinger ’09, a representative from the First
Year Social Committee, said that the spaces should be specialized,
suggesting options like a designated party area, a small movie theatre,
and a game room.
Shah alluded to the possibility of constructing a bar, which was immediately denied by Barth.
All students in attendance agreed that cable-equipped plasma
screen televisions would make the new social spaces very popular as
well as very expensive.
Barth raised concerns that costly equipment might get damaged
if placed in public spaces. However, Shah replied that spending more
money on better equipment gives students more motivation to be
respectful of the space.
Matthew L. Sundquist ’09 said that without enough incentive,
freshmen will not be likely to leave their dorms to go to social spaces
in other Yard basements.
Sundquist said that it is important that the renovated rooms should be able to serve as many freshmen at once as possible.
In addition, students discussed the possibility of performance
and practice areas for bands, fully-stocked kitchens, and vending
machines in the new spaces.
Violich said that he wants the renovations to be a “slam dunk
success” and plans to develop a schematic plan based on the input
gathered to be resubmitted to students and administrators in a few
The budget for the basement renovations are currently being
developed, said Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd. Kidd
added that the Freshman Deans Office would have liked to take a more
comprehensive look at renovating all the Yard basements, but the
construction at Hilles opened up a “window of opportunity” for changes
This past fall, University President Lawrence H. Summers
allocated $6.5 million for student-focused space, including renovating
Yard basements, revamping the Hilles building, constructing a café in
Lamont, and establishing a pub in Loker Commons.
—Staff writer Ying Wang can be reached at email@example.com