Disparate Apartment Buildings Tapped for Quincy Swing Space

Students displaced by the upcoming renovation of Old Quincy will be housed in three apartment buildings around Harvard Square, administrators announced Friday.

Swing space—the name for interim housing during the renovation—will be located at Hampden Hall at 8 Plympton St., Fairfax Hall at 1306 Mass. Avenue, and Ridgely Hall at 65 Mt. Auburn St. The three buildings will house 180 displaced students as Old Quincy undergoes a 15-month renovation project, which will begin in June 2012.

The buildings, owned by the Harvard University Housing, currently serve as apartments for graduate students and visiting faculty.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said that the criteria used to select the swing space included proximity to Quincy and the potential to recreate a normal House experience.

“A number of factors went into selecting these buildings as swing space. Ideally, there would have been a building just like Old Quincy nearby, but we are very satisfied that this option will provide students with a positive experience,” Smith said.

Smith added that the current spaces would be slightly touched up to fit the needs of undergraduates, but he would not elaborate on how high the costs for the projects would run.

While these three spaces could be used for future projects that would only take parts of Houses out of commission, Smith said that the considerations for finding housing to accommodate full House renovations are more complicated. He indicated that a “swing House” will need to be created before construction begins on larger House Renewal projects.

“There aren’t a lot of places near Harvard that can house a full 350 to 400 people,” Smith said.

The three buildings selected for this stage of the project are located in the same general area but are not immediately adjacent to one another.

The apartment building on Plympton St. is located opposite the AD club and next to the The Crimson's building. The apartments on Mass. Ave. are located above the ice cream shop J.P. Licks. The Mt. Auburn St. building is located next to Claverly Hall, which is part of Adams House.

Old Quincy was selected as a test case for future house renewal in Dec. 2010 and will serve as a blueprint for future renovations of the other neo-Georgian houses, which in addition to Old Quincy include Kirkland , Dunster, Eliot, Winthrop, Lowell, and parts of Leverett.

“Each House will continue to be unique and will maintain its historic character. But as we renew the House system, we also believe strongly in the need to ensure that future students will share a similar experience in terms of their access to certain amenities, regardless of which House they are in,” Smith said.

The funding for the Quincy renovation project will come from a combination of gifts from alumni and internal FAS funds, which includes the FAS reserves, Smith said.

Administrators have said that the full House renewal projects will be a top priority for the upcoming capital campaign. Donors and senior administrators have said in the past that the total cost of the renovation projects would be over a billion dollars.

According to members of the FAS Physical Resources Department, the renovation of Old Quincy will at least include updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. The House Program Planning Committee outlined further possible changes for the Houses, such as introducing “clusters”—large common rooms for students living in singles along a hallway—and eliminating walk-throughs.

College administrators are currently reviewing the HPPC’s recommendations for future renovations, and they hope to release more developed plans this May, Smith said.

—Staff writer Sirui Li contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Stephanie B. Garlock can be reached at sgarlock@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at gkumar@college.harvard.edu.

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