Old Leverett Renovation To Include More Common Spaces, Glass Roof

UPDATED: December 10, 2012, at 5:29 p.m.

New gathering spaces intended to alleviate cramped conditions in the dining hall proper will be built as part of next year’s renovation of Old Leverett, according to design plans released Monday by Harvard administrators.

When construction begins in June 2013, McKinlock Hall will become the second dorm to undergo renovations as part of the University’s House renewal program. The building’s interior will be entirely redesigned in the more-than-yearlong renovation process, while its traditional Neo-Georgian exterior will be kept intact.

Although the Leverett dining hall will reopen in time for the return of students in fall 2013, construction on the rest of the building will continue through fall 2014.

Like the plans for Old Quincy, which is currently being renovated, those for Old Leverett call for the elimination of walk-through bedrooms in favor of clusters of rooms and singles off of hallways. Old Leverett will also see the addition of common spaces and new horizontal hallways that connect the traditional vertical entryways.

While administrators say that these features will likely be included in the plans for the other undergraduate Houses, they will have to address problems specific to each House. In Leverett, for instance, the dining hall often becomes overcrowded during peak meal times.

Construction plans seek to combat crowding in the dining hall by adding additional common spaces, though the square footage of the current dining hall will remain the same.

The alleyway that students currently use to access the dining hall from Memorial Drive will be walled off and covered by a glass roof, creating what is called a light court in plans. This passage will attach the dining hall to a newly built lounge and classroom space.

Additionally, a new underground passageway will connect the wing of the building that includes the dining hall with the rest of the dorm. This corridor, which is intended to be used as a gallery for student artwork, will be lit by a skylight.

“Spaces like this are opportunities for us,” Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said.

The existing art and music studios in the basement of McKinlock will also be renovated. All undergraduates will also be able to access a recreation room, which will function as a theater space including new lights, a sound system, and a stage.

A combination of ramps and two elevators will make the renovated building accessible to students in wheelchairs. The building is also aiming to be LEED Gold certified as part of an effort to make the renewed Houses more environmentally friendly.

The approximately 175 students displaced by the renovation of Old Leverett in the 2013-2014 academic year will be housed in the three Harvard-owned apartment buildings—Hampden Hall at 8 Plympton St., Fairfax Hall at 1306 Mass. Avenue, and Ridgely Hall at 65 Mt. Auburn St.—currently being used as swing space for Quincy students.

Construction on Old Quincy and Old Leverett, deemed “test projects” by administrators and architects, will inform the plans for the renovation of full Houses.

Old Leverett is the first dorm with a dining hall, House Masters’ residence, and House common spaces to be renovated.

Beginning in 2015, Dunster House will be the first full House to be renovated in the project. Dunster students will be housed in the Inn at Harvard while construction takes place. Administrators plan to eventually modernize all 12 undergraduate Houses.

—Staff writer Elizabeth S. Auritt can be reached at eauritt@college.harvard.edu.

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