As Housing Day approaches, FlyBy will serve as your personal rating agency with a complete rundown by a resident of each House. Not that you have any say (River Gods notwithstanding), but at least you’ll know whether your portfolio is getting a downgrade.
You've seen it. That hulking, blue-capped brick tower thrusting itself triumphantly into the clouds. From the river and from the Yard, Lowell House's spire is a defining feature of the Cambridge skyline. But does the fact that you might be able to spot your House from Logan Airport make it a good place to live? Find out after the jump.
Location: Premium. Lowell is the geographic center of River House life. Quincy and Leverett are seconds away, and Winthrop, Eliot, and Kirkland are sneaky close once you pick up that Lowell-residents-only backdoor swipe access. You can get to the MAC without putting on a sweatshirt in 20 degree weather. The Mt. Auburn latenight food spots are close enough that you feel like your odds of getting mugged are acceptable, as long as you get that burrito. When you rub your eyes and see that it's 11:03 and you have 11 a.m. class, you won't be that late (if you run). Only Adams could claim a better location, and that's arguable.
Rooming: Rigidly hierarchical. If you are a senior, you will get n+1, and you will be at the top of the lottery, so you will grab one of the best rooms available. Juniors will get a pretty solid n room. Sophomores will get a smile from Beth Terry (House Administrator) and a big fat question mark. Flyby called its sophomore 2-room double "The Cell," and only half-jokingly. Walkthroughs are present but often avoidable, and Claverly overflow housing is very nice for those who don't mind being a bit of distance from a dining hall.
While Lowell is notorious for its roaches, a major extermination effort a couple of years ago has kept FlyBy from seeing any in rooms in its time in the House. They're definitely not dropping on you every time you take a shower, and other Houses are secretly much worse.
Lowell rooms have a cool old-Harvard vibe to them, and you can snuggle in your claustrophobic sophomore pad dreaming of the day you and seven friends will rule the 9-room "Labyrinth" above the super-sweet Library.
Dining Hall: Eh. The dining room is beautiful, particularly in sunshine, but the servery garners a lot of (mostly-justifiable) ill will. It's cramped and has to outsource important culinary functions (anything drinkable, cereal, microwave) to assorted satellite sections of the dining hall.
Lowell also enforces interhouse dining restrictions, and during opera season won't let anyone who is not a Lowellian eat there, which sucks. (As an aside: we at FlyBy think interhouse dining rules are the best real-life example of what Mankiw taught you in Ec 10 about the evils of trade restrictions. So far Lowell, Adams, Kirkland, Winthrop, Leverett, Eliot and Quincy have rules keeping people out. If you somehow manage to have friends in the 11/12 of Harvard that doesn't live in your house, you're screwed when 6 p.m. rolls around. Who gains from this insanity? No one. Everybody loses because of a few vocal protectionists. Open the dining hall borders today!)
House List: A low-level stream of events punctuated by a few house-list "heroes." Maybe five topics per semester generate a moderate level of discussion, and the rest is just the same four dudes arguing with each other. If you happen to post something that even vaguely offends one of the hyenas' sensibilities, prepare to be absolutely savaged in the way only a self-righteous kid bored at his laptop can.
House Masters: Caring and hospitable. Diana and Dorothy love Lowell and the people in it, and express this love via weekly teas. Lowell tea is delicious and classy, and you should go as often as you can. Bring your friends who trash on the house and see what they have to say after their third scone or miniature cookie.
House Culture: Disjointed. Based on last year's LowellCat t-shirt and this year's rejected "FML" design, apparently there's a healthy love for internet memes within Lowell's walls. That said, this certainly doesn't represent the whole House, and we doubt anyone can really put a finger on what does.
Bacchanalia, the spring formal, seems to bring in everyone, and its three dancefloors, ice sculptures, and openness to guests from other Houses (see!) make it one of the best and most popular events on campus.
X-factor: Beauty. Lowell looks good. Really, ridiculously good. That tower, the brick, the classic enclosed-quad design...if you want to show people a Harvard House, bring them here. This place was built to be gorgeous in green ivy and stunning in snow. If you want a stock Harvard story to tell, just give them the brief rundown of the famous Russian (now replica) bells. Lowell is built like a fortress, and on the inside it feels like a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Harvard life.
The Rating: AA.* Sure, there are flaws, but you should be going pretty much ballistic with joy when you crack open that housing envelope and read the words "Lowell House." It guarantees that for three years, whenever you show a stranger around campus, they'll ask with incredulity, "You LIVE here?" And that's worth something. When you walk in that front gate and breathe the cool Lowell courtyard air, you'll know you're home.
*Ratings run as such: [AAA > AA > A > BBB > junk > subprime]