Harvard Will Present Campus Center Plans Thursday

Harvard administrators will meet with the Cambridge Historical Commission on Thursday to seek approval for proposed renovations to the Smith Campus Center.

The campus center will undergo construction beginning in spring 2016 and finish in 2018. In late January and early February, Tanya Iatridis, the senior director of University planning who oversees the renovation, showed off preliminary blueprints and plans to Harvard affiliates.

The four sides of the campus center—Massachusetts Avenue and Mt. Auburn, Dunster, and Holyoke Streets—will feature renovations that primarily add more trees and public seating space. The first, second, and tenth floor will also be renovated.

Smith Campus Center Front
A preliminary rendering of the renovated Smith Campus Center shows a remodeled front facade, where restaurant Au Bon Pain is currently located.

The first floor of the new campus center will feature a welcome area for visitors, the Information Desk, common spaces, walls with moss and ferns, and trees. The plans that have been submitted to the Historical Commission detail a two level cafe and more food options available on the first floor than the campus center current has but do not go into specifics about which food retailers may occupy the designated spaces.


The second floor will house more common spaces and meeting rooms and the arts and wellness center, which is currently housed on the first floor.

The tenth floor will also include meeting and event spaces, as well as a “projecting bay”, or a room with a glass wall, according to the plans.

The plans, available on the Historical Commission's website, detailed a deteriorated image of the current center, with concrete surfaces stained “in visually distracting patterns by airborne exhaust,” cracked and damaged concrete, and corrosion. All of the buildings outside concrete will be cleaned and sealed with a water repellant, according to the plans.

The plans did not detail specific uses of common and meeting spaces, but Iatridis has previously told The Crimson that some space on the second floor will be dedicated to Undergraduate Council and Graduate Student Government offices.

Some undergraduates have criticized the proposed campus center because of its perceived lack of dedicated social spaces for undergraduates. At last week’s UC open forum,  University President Drew G. Faust said that she expects primarily undergraduates to occupy the campus center at night, while other Harvard affiliates will likely use it during the morning and day hours.

—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @trdelwic.