Lowell House to Be Renewed

Full construction will begin in June 2017.

The University will begin renovating Lowell House in the summer of 2017, its third massive project in a $1-billion-plus commitment to enhance and upgrade the undergraduate residential House system.

Lowell House leaders Diana L. Eck and Dorothy A. Austin met this spring with the House Program Planning Committee—appointed in 2008 “to examine the mission and purpose of House life and to develop an architectural space plan for the House system”—to begin planning for the renovation.

Once full construction begins in June 2017, Lowell students will reside in “swing housing” in the building that formerly housed the Inn at Harvard. In an e-mail sent to House members, Eck and Austin wrote that they hope Lowell’s “spirit, traditions, and strong sense of community” will continue in that space. (For an example, read “The Lowell Speeches Project,” from our September-October 2014 issue.)

“We are very excited about what this will mean for future generations of Lowell residents,” Austin and Eck continued. “With refurbished living spaces, additional social spaces, new classrooms and music practice rooms, these buildings now support student life in ways that the old spaces simply couldn’t.”

Construction is now under way at Dunster House, which is expected to receive its returning residents at the start of the coming fall term. Broad sketches of plans for the renovation of Winthrop House were released earlier this year, with work scheduled to begin in 2016. (Two earlier test projects were undertaken at Leverett House’s McKinlock Hall and Quincy House’s Stone Hall.) 

Eck spoke with Harvard Magazine in 2013 (see “Learning, and Life, in the Houses”) about the importance of sustaining an intergenerational learning community within the undergraduate Houses. “Of course, at every college there are residences—fraternities, sororities, dorms,” she said. But

[w]hen they move into a House at Harvard, one of the first things sophomores discover is that it’s not a dorm. Yes, it is a place to live, but it’s much more than that. It’s a place where they are in face-to-face contact with each other when they straggle in to breakfast and read the newspaper together, where they come back for lunch and find the place buzzing, where they bring their teaching fellow or a friend over for dinner. It becomes the most important site for their education.


Read more articles by Laura Levis

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