Plans for Dunster Renewal Unveiled, Construction Will Begin in June

Renewing Dunster
After renewal is complete, Dunster House will include a new lounge space on its lower level, which will overlook a new fitness room, shown here in an artist's rendering.

Horizontal entryways, an art studio with a kiln, a “smart classroom,” and a new gym are among the features outlined in plans for the renewed Dunster House released Thursday, just a few months ahead of the project’s groundbreaking.

When construction begins in early June, Dunster will be the first House to undergo renovation to its entire building, seeing a transformation of its social, academic, and residential spaces. It follows more-limited test projects at Quincy and Leverett Houses, where Stone and McKinlock halls have served as models for the broader renewal of Harvard’s undergraduate residences.

It is unclear how closely the arrangement of private residences will resemble that of Stone Hall, which now features a mix of traditional suites with private common rooms and “cluster communities,” which are comprised of hall-single and double bedrooms with shared common rooms and hall bathrooms. Like Stone and McKinlock halls, Dunster is slated to feature horizontal corridors connecting its current vertical entryways.

The lower levels of the House, which currently house squash courts and other student spaces, will be redesigned to include new, repurposed student spaces, including a music practice room, a game room, and a large common room connected to the House grille. A seminar room and 80-person lounge on the first floor will connect to the courtyard.


Planning the Renewed Dunster
Once renewal is complete in the fall of 2015, Dunster House will include a new smart seminar room, a new student lounge, fitness center, in addition to refurbished residences.

In total, the project will create 33 percent more space for House programming, according to Merle Bicknell, assistant dean for physical resources within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“One of the great benefits of House renewal is that while we cannot change the footprint, we can reconfigure and reuse the space in very exciting ways. We will have a lot more common and classroom space and it will feel a lot more open,” Dunster House Co-Master Roger B. Porter said in the release.

In line with sustainable design incorporated into Stone Hall, the renewed Dunster will feature better-insulated walls and windows, as well as a water retention system, according to the press release.

In an email sent to undergraduates Thursday morning, Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde introduced the new design plans and reiterated the major goals of the House renewal program.

“While each renewed House will boast similar amenities, a few themes run through the entire project,” Lassonde wrote in the email. “Each will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified; each will be fully accessible; and each will retain its historic character and traditions.”

Administrators first announced in July 2012 that Dunster would be the first House to undergo a complete renovation. In addition to the swing space that has housed Quincy and Leverett students during the two test projects, the former Inn at Harvard will house a number of displaced Dunster students, as well as a House dining hall and other shared facilities.

In the fall, the it was announced that Winthrop would be the next undergraduate House to undergo renovation in 2016-2017, following a year-long break in construction after Dunster’s projected completion by the fall of 2015.

—Staff writer Brianna D. MacGregor can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @bdmacgregor.


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