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Architects Update Plans For Winthrop Renewal Addition

Artist's rendering of the proposed Winthrop House renewal.
Artist's rendering of the proposed Winthrop House renewal.
By R. Blake Paterson, Crimson Staff Writer

Architects in charge of the upcoming renovation of Winthrop House have tweaked their construction plans so that a five-story addition will closer resemble the rest of the Neo-Georgian residence, rather than be built in the more contemporary style as previously planned.

In February, Harvard detailed its plans for the addition to Gore Hall, one of two buildings that comprise Winthrop, a River House set to undergo renovation in 2016-2017 as part of Harvard’s more than $1 billion House renewal project.

Artist's rendering of the proposed Winthrop House renewal.
Artist's rendering of the proposed Winthrop House renewal. By Courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle

Architects plan to build the addition, dubbed “Winthrop East,” on the corner of Mill and Plympton Streets to house 46 additional beds and eliminate the need for overflow housing. In original renderings, Winthrop East followed a contemporary style in contrast with Winthrop’s otherwise old-fashioned and brick facade.

Plans released this week update the building with a Neo-Georgian style exterior. The update to previous plans come in response to recommendations from students and administrators who weighed in on the original designs, according to Elizabeth R. Leber, a partner at Beyer Blinder Belle, the architecture firm involved in the construction.

“The exterior changes are a reflection of a desire by many in the Harvard community to see a building that was more clearly sympathetic to the Neo-Georgian river Houses,” Leber wrote in an email.

According to Winthrop House Co-Master Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., the latest renewal plans also include a significantly larger fitness room, a multi-purpose arts and design room, and a two-story grille and student center. He also said the changes follow feedback from students.

“The changes were a result of a very healthy give and take between students, architects, and the community,” Sullivan said. “It’s indicative of the very best of what this process could be.”

To gauge students’ feelings on the renewal plans, administrators convened a committee of about 20 students, who met three times last February and twice again last month, Leber wrote.

Administrators updated Winthrop residents on the plans on Tuesday at a closed town hall-style event. Jennifer F. N. Kizza ’16, a Winthrop resident and a member of the student feedback committee, said students raised similar concerns on Tuesday that had previously come up in the smaller committee discussions.

“Will we have back-gate swipe? Will we have sinks in the rooms, given that we have hallway bathrooms?” Kizza said, referring to her peers’ concerns. “But overall, I think students had a similar sentiment of wanting to maintain Winthrop’s House spirit.”

Other students involved in the feedback process praised the update to the planned addition.

“I was very pleased,” said Marlee A. Ehrlich ’16, Winthrop House Committee co-chair. “I think that it looked really great from the sketches that we saw, and I think it was really important that the architect and renovations committee really listened to the students’ opinion.”

—Staff writer R. Blake Paterson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BlakePat95.

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