Living with Mold, Quincy Looks Ahead

Residents of Old Quincy, a section of Quincy House which will begin renovations in June 2012, say there are a number of improvements that they hope will be made to the House as part of the College’s ambitious House renewal project, including improvements to the building’s leaky ceilings, aging ventilation systems, and flawed floorplan.

The College announced Jan. 14 that Old Quincy, completed in 1930, will be the first section of the 12 Houses to be renewed, but the announcement did not include details about the nature or scope of the renovations.

“One of my blockmates had problems with mold,” said Marygabrielle Prezioso ’13, a resident of Old Quincy.

Many students, as well as Quincy House Master Lee Gehrke, expressed dissatisfaction with a common Old Quincy rooming setup that requires students to walk through their roommate’s bedroom to reach the bathroom.

“There are beds in the common room. Whoever’s living in the common room has to walk through his roommate’s bedroom to get to the bathroom. That’s very undesirable,” Gehrke said.

Although the specific plans for Quincy renovation have not yet been finalized, the House Program Planning Committee, which released a report on House renewal in 2009, has drawn up a number of goals for the construction process. Gehrke wrote in an e-mail that these goals include increased privacy and safety, special housing accommodations for those who need them, and improved sustainability efforts.

Based on these guidelines, Gehrke wrote he expects that rooms with walkthrough bedrooms will be eliminated. He also hopes that entryway size will become more consistent and that tutors will be located closer to their respective entryways.

Since the renovations are scheduled to take an estimated 15 months, according to the press release, the approximately 180 residents of Old Quincy will have to be relocated, though they will remain affiliates of Quincy.

One possible location for the “swing” housing is apartments in the area owned by Harvard Real Estate Services, according to the Jan. 14 press release.

Gehrke said that during the construction process he will prioritize maintaining a sense of community among students still living in Quincy and those displaced to “swing” housing.

“We want those students to continue to feel that they are a very important part of Quincy House,” Gehrke said.

Neil T. Curran ’12, co-chair of the Quincy House Committee, said that the committee planned to help Gehrke with his efforts.

“They’ll still be a part of the House,” Curran said. “We know what we have to do to get people involved, and at some point it does fall upon our students.”

The House renewal announcement has had very little impact on the Quincy House Committee’s immediate plans, Curran said. However, he said that the committee will take it into account when discussing their spring housing lottery.

Old Quincy contains mostly sophomore housing.

Catherine G. Katz ’13, a history concentrator who lives in Old Quincy, said that she hoped that planners would be mindful of the House’s history during construction.

“I really hope that they maintain that sense of history and identifying with the past. Just because you can make all these improvements and have all these newfangled things, we shouldn’t necessarily do that just because we can,” Katz said.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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