<p>Stone Hall's courtyard is an important social space. The renovated courtyard features new gathering areas and subtle, sloped accessible walkways. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

Stone Hall's courtyard is an important social space. The renovated courtyard features new gathering areas and subtle, sloped accessible walkways.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>A newly restored passageway remakes connections between the library and street, restoring a lost pedestrian network of courtyards. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

A newly restored passageway remakes connections between the library and street, restoring a lost pedestrian network of courtyards.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>The smart classroom offers a dynamic environment for classes during the day and a "sandbox" for technological experimentation by students at night. The room is equipped to link users to remote classrooms and is organized to promote collaboration. All surfaces are writable and can be reconfigured. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

The smart classroom offers a dynamic environment for classes during the day and a "sandbox" for technological experimentation by students at night. The room is equipped to link users to remote classrooms and is organized to promote collaboration. All surfaces are writable and can be reconfigured.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>Liquid crystal glass in the smart classroom provides a whiteboard surface and puts collaborative learning on display. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

Liquid crystal glass in the smart classroom provides a whiteboard surface and puts collaborative learning on display.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>Previously, the basement level contained only storage and mechanical systems, making Stone Hall a bedroom community. A new social corridor with study niches and an art gallery reclaims unused space and fosters social and academic activity. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

Previously, the basement level contained only storage and mechanical systems, making Stone Hall a bedroom community. A new social corridor with study niches and an art gallery reclaims unused space and fosters social and academic activity.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>Reclaimed marble from former shower stalls at Stone Hall line the corridor and link various social spaces, including a practice room for musicians. All interior materials are considered low- or zero-toxin emitting, and 97 percent of demolition and construction waste was diverted from landfill.<br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

Reclaimed marble from former shower stalls at Stone Hall line the corridor and link various social spaces, including a practice room for musicians. All interior materials are considered low- or zero-toxin emitting, and 97 percent of demolition and construction waste was diverted from landfill.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>A skylit niche is a comfortable, fully wired space for study along the new social corridor. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

A skylit niche is a comfortable, fully wired space for study along the new social corridor.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>A transparent meeting room along the new social corridor at the basement level activates the corridor and encourages impromptu interactions. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

A transparent meeting room along the new social corridor at the basement level activates the corridor and encourages impromptu interactions.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>A new community room in the basement opens to the terrace. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

A new community room in the basement opens to the terrace.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>The new terrace brings daylight to the lower level of Stone Hall and gives the residence greater presence in the context of Quincy House and the larger district. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

The new terrace brings daylight to the lower level of Stone Hall and gives the residence greater presence in the context of Quincy House and the larger district.
 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

<p>Stone Hall's courtyard is an important social space. The renovated courtyard features new gathering areas and subtle, sloped accessible walkways. <br>&nbsp;<br /><small>&copy; Michael Moran/OTTO</small></p>

How can we set a sustainable, economical paradigm for the renewal of Harvard Houses that supports twenty-first century living and learning?

Stone Hall, built in 1929, is part of Old Quincy House and the larger River House National Historic District along the shores of the Charles River. 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

Conceived in the 1920s, Harvard's House system has become the cornerstone of the university's undergraduate life—and has set the standard for residential liberal arts education in the US. Yet, as with any building of nearly 80 years, the Houses' original infrastructure needed updating. After a comprehensive physical assessment, Harvard initiated the House Renewal program to breathe new life and relevance into an aging but noble building type, while optimizing spaces to support Harvard's highly valued living and learning model.

Our work began with a House Renewal Peer Benchmark and Comparison Study, which compared the construction costs, renovation scope, and pre- and post-renovation program features for comparable buildings at peer institutions. This report, together with other planning documents, enabled Harvard to make informed decisions regarding the comprehensive renewal of its River Houses.

The new terrace opens the activity of Stone Hall to the out of doors, brings daylight to the interior, and offers a gathering place for students and faculty. 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

Pilot Project

We are responsible for the first three House Renewal projects: Stone Hall, Leverett McKinlock Hall, and Dunster House, all of them part of a National Historic District along the bank of the Charles River. With the renovation of Stone Hall, the pilot project, our charge was to set a paradigm for renewal that established standards and policies related to sustainability, building restoration, residential and social programs, space and resource management, and systems design.  

Special emphasis on resource management emerged early in the project as a response to the increasing pressures of climate change and economic stewardship. Our goals were to preserve historic character and House culture; to renew House life experience; to connect spaces and nurture communities; to provide modern lodging and sustainable operations; and to accommodate the future. Our intent has been to do more with less—by designing the renovation to last another 80 years while maintaining relevance within rapidly evolving educational models.

Interventions

To introduce full building accessibility, new corridors and elevators connect the historic vertical entry stairs that separate residential suites. The new hybrid circulation system maintains the vertical entryway culture so important to this building type while modernizing the interior environment to promote social interaction and connectivity.

The circulation of the basement level was reconfigured to improve efficiency and link the new social program along a spine of natural light.

Formerly underutilized basement spaces were converted to daylit social and academic spaces. A new social corridor was formed along the courtyard wall, connecting a new smart classroom, music rehearsal spaces, meeting room, study spaces, and a community room with a new outdoor terrace. The terrace brings daylight and access to the outdoors for the social program of the lower level and gives Stone Hall a greater presence in the context of Quincy House and the larger district. The smart classroom further advances the trend toward integration of living and learning and expands use of the building.

Environmental Responsibility

Since the Stone Hall project is a renovation and not a new building, we needed to develop a nuanced understanding of the site and building conditions in order to make fine-tuned alterations. Though subtle, these improvements will ultimately make substantial differences when deployed across the entire House Renewal program.

The building achieves Harvard's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs by 30 percent. It conserves existing building fabric and reduces reliance on air conditioning in favor of passive ventilation. Given the Houses' location, stewardship of the Charles River is fundamental. Measures have been taken to reduce flood risk, limit potable water use, and improve water quality discharge to the Charles River.

Relic mantles exist as anchors within the new corridors on each of the eight wings. Custom panels, made from keys collected from graduating students over the years, were designed for each of the salvaged mantles. Daylit study spaces were carved out to activate the fourth-floor corridors. 
© Michael Moran/OTTO

The renovation of Stone Hall sought a delicate balance between preservation and transformation. The new design draws students out of their rooms and into communal and study spaces, fostering a community that truly integrates living and learning—while preserving the historic character of an enduring building.