BY ADINA LEVINE
This summer, Hemenway Gymnasium will be radically renovated, according to plans announced by the university last week.
“We’re renovating Hemenway because students deserve convenient access to a first-class fitness facility and Hemenway isn’t that right now,” explained Dean Elena Kagan. “We hope by the beginning of the next school year, Hemenway will be hugely improved — indeed, that it will be spectacular.”
The Hemenway overhaul is the latest in a line of construction projects that Dean Kagan has undertaken to improve the physical façade of the campus, including the renovations to Harkness Commons that occurred last summer.
“Renovating Hemenway Gym is a priority because of Dean Kagan’s commitment to improving student life,” commented John Arciprete, Director of Facilities. “Hemenway is a sub-standard facility and a disappointment to our students. Now that Harkness is complete, Hemenway has become the priority.”
Located in Harvard’s north yard, the Hemenway gym is jointly owned between the Faculty for Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the Law School. The $10 million anticipated costs will be split between FAS and HLS, $5 million each.
“The project is budgeted at $10M,” asserted Arciprete. “FAS and HLS will share equally in the expense.”
The renovations are set to take place in the summer, commencing the day intercession begins in order to be ready for the students’ return in September.
“It is our plan to close the facility after exams and reopen in early September,” Arciprete explained. “The schedule is very aggressive and we will maximize work hours in accordance with City ordinances.”
The specific changes proposed include reducing the number of squash courts to provide for three international-size squash courts, and in doubling the amount of cardio-vascular equipment in the resulting extra space. The plans include instituting air-conditioning, and making Hemenway handicapped accessible. In addition, the heating and ventilation systems, dating from 1938, will also be replaced.
“The number of squash courts will be reduced to make way for more cardio and strength training equipment,” asserted Arciprete. “Locker rooms will be expanded. An all purpose room will be available for group classes and activities. Generally, the level of finish will be improved greatly.”
The exterior of the building will only be minimally altered, in accordance with both Cambridge and Massachusetts Historic Commissions that have deemed the building a historic landmark. The building was designed by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott and completed in 1938, replacing an older building of the same name that had occupied the North Yard since 1876, according to the University press report.
“Hemenway is a building of historical significance and any exterior alteration must be approved by Historical commissions,” Arciprete commented. “We are fortunate to have received approval to install new windows adjacent to the entry which will provide some natural light.”
Student input for the project began with a student survey that was sent to the students to determine gym usage and preferences, as well as an open student meeting. A student group was also included in the design phase of the project.
“All students were surveyed at the programming phase to establish goals for reuse of the building,” Arciprete stated. “The goal is to provide a facility that responds to student interest.”
The project’s architect is Sasaki Associates, Inc., of Boston and San Francisco, a firm responsible for existing fitness facilities at MIT and Brandeis University, according to the University press report.
“Turner SPD has been awarded the contract via competitive bid invitation,” explained Arciprete.
Continuing her plans for future construction projects, Dean Kagan has previously announced that revamping the north end on campus is a multi-year goal that will move the garage underground and create a student center. In addition to the $12 million cost to renovate Harkness Commons last summer, and the $5 million cost to renovate Hemenway this summer, the Dean expects to spend a substantial amount in creating a new student center in 5-6 years.
“The goal is to have a facility — and a campus — worthy of the students who go to school here,” explained Michael Armini, Director of Communications.