Old Quincy: A Test Project

What the plans for Old Quincy reveal about House renewal

The plans for Old Quincy have been modeled in Lowell House, one of the oldest of the residential Houses, Smith says.

New designs like the hybrid horizontal-vertical entryway setup—characterized by horizontal hallways connecting vertical entryways—can be translated to larger scale plans, according to Smith.

But he says that although many aspects of Old Quincy are indicative of future renovations, the building lacks things like a dining hall, a Master’s residence, and junior and senior common rooms that will need to be addressed when the College tackles entire Houses.

Quincy has two separate buildings—one old and one new—which allows contractors to dive into construction while leaving the majority of the House relatively untouched.

Administrators plan to continue renovating Houses at least one building at a time. For some Houses that exist in a single building, like Lowell and Eliot, the entire House population will likely need to be relocated so that they can be renovated.


“Honestly we would prefer to do them all together,” Smith says of renovating portions of a House at a time. “It disrupts the House to do half of it.”

Smith says that the three Harvard-owned apartment buildings designated as swing space for the renovations of Old Quincy—Hampden Hall, Fairfax Hall, and Ridgely Hall—are a temporary fix to finding a temporary home for students displaced by renovations.

Ultimately, Smith says, Harvard will have to create a swing space. But whether Harvard will construct a new building or designate existing space for that purpose remains undetermined.


One of the most drastic changes to the setup of Old Quincy, touted by administrators as benefiting House and student life, is the elimination of the traditional vertical entryway.

While the physical location of the staircases will remain the same, entryways will be connected by horizontal hallways.

Students interviewed for this article were critical of the traditional vertical entryway—a common setup in nine of the residential Houses.

“I think it is not conducive to social life within your dorm,” Robert M. Hero ’13 says of the current setup. “There is something about walking up and down stairs that is so much more unappealing than walking across the hall.”

Pforzheimer House Master Nicholas A. Christakis says that the horizontal hallway setup—common to Pfoho—promotes a strong sense of community in the House.

“They famously said that part of the renovation was so that any student in Pfoho House could get to anywhere from anywhere else in their pajamas or less,” Christakis says, in reference to a statement attributed to former House Master J. Woodland Hastings when renovations connected the House’s formerly separate buildings.


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