Old Quincy: A Test Project

What the plans for Old Quincy reveal about House renewal

A crack on the wall to the right of the door and the presence of a boarded fireplace—a long-unused relic from the past—speak to the age of one dorm room in Old Quincy.

The former occupant of the room—Anna R. Veverica ’13—says that she never had a problem with allergies until she began living in her room in Old Quincy, rumored to have a problem with mold.

During the first few weeks of the year, Veverica regularly noticed cockroaches throughout her two-person suite originally built to be a single.

When she approached someone working in the Building Manager’s office about the bug infestation, he told her the problem was not uncommon.

“He promised that once people started using the rooms and the showers, all the cockroaches would go away,” Veverica says, and according to her, after a week or so, they were gone.


But the physical problems with the room remained. The small size of the bedroom forced Veverica and her roommate to put one bed in what was meant to be a common room, creating the “walk-through” style rooming arrangement often criticized by students and administrators alike.

Veverica says that although she and her roommate coped with the setup—which had her roommate walking through Veverica’s bedroom to reach their in-suite bathroom—she knows friends whose sleep schedule was regularly interrupted by a rowdy roommate.

Come 2013, when the first stage of a series of renovations across the Houses is complete, gone will be the walk-through room setup and cramped quarters that plague so many inhabitants of Old Quincy.

The renovated building will boast a number of new amenities, like an outdoor terrace, two elevators, and a “multipurpose” room in the basement well-suited for events ranging from meetings to House activities to study sessions.

Though the administration has made no explicit promises to remove the roaches, it does say that the renovation of Old Quincy—slated to begin shortly after Commencement in 2012—will drastically improve the quality of life of an Old Quincy resident.

The College has termed Old Quincy a “test project,” meant to help implement the College’s plans in the other Houses.

Although Harvard announced its ambitious plans to renovate the 12 residential Houses in April 2008, the College remained silent on the nature and scope of renovations until recently.

But now that the College has announced a swing space to house displaced students and has released floor plans that offer some image of a final product, the question becomes—what will the renovations of Old Quincy mean for the other 11 Houses?


Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith says that the plans for Old Quincy were created with an eye towards the ability to replicate them on a larger scale.


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