'It's Lovely, I Think': Sun Glimmers On (Almost) New Memorial Hall

As the bright November sunshine filtered in through the recently-washed stained glass windows of Memorial Hall's new first-year dining room, employees of the Fogg Art Museum washed an armless statue of John Adams.

Nearby, the bust of W.E.B. DuBois lay on the floor, protected by bubble wrap.

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles and Associate Dean for Physical Resources and Planning David A. Zewinski '76 simply beamed.

The most complicated renovation project in the history of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) was eight years in the planning and required massive reworking after estimates came in way over budget. But now, two months before members of the Class of 1999 are expected to take their first meals in Annenberg Hall, the remodeling is almost done.

This week, construction crews and contractors are moving out of the renovated building. And Harvard Dining Services, along with more than 100 tables and 600 chairs, is moving in.


Yesterday, the busts which had been removed for renovations returned to their perches on the pillars in the Great Hall.

And Zewinski took Knowles, Vice President for Administration Sally H. Zeckhauser and FAS Administrative Dean Nancy L. Maull on a tour of the building, from the new Loker Commons student center in the basement to the heating system in the attic.

Most of the scaffolding is gone. The first level smells of fresh stain, fresh paint and just-cleaned surfaces. The new steel in the kitchen and serving space gleams.

Downstairs, in Loker Commons, things look a little less finished. But the transformation from the days when tiny classrooms filled the dingy basement is spectacular.

"It's lovely, I think," Knowles said yesterday. "I love it."

Tables stand at the end of the seating area. Chairs, with crimson-colored seats, are stacked in the coffee house. The spaces are ready for an ATM machine and telephones. Yesterday, a construction worker was touching-up the wall of the computer room.

Today, the electrician will install the lighted message board which will run the length of the Commons, as well as an electronic billboard on the back wall.

Loker Commons includes the original poets which support the entire building. The structures dot the open space in the middle, which will be used for seating.

"It's very idiosyncratic," Knowles said. "Some are brick, some are steel."

And then there's the post that cracked. At the end of the "street," which is bordered by the open seating area and private booths, stands a reinforced pillar.

"There is a war story," Knowles said. "This is the column that moved. It moved a tremendous amount--three-eighths of an inch."