Swartz Hall Renovation

This web page will be regularly updated with information concerning the renewal of Swartz Hall (formerly Andover Hall). Check back often for the latest project news, progress, and impacts from Ralph DeFlorio, HDS’s director of operations.

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Swartz Hall Updates

December 17, 2020

Well, 2020 is finally about to come to a close. In what has been a challenging year in many ways, I like to think about, in regard to the Swartz Hall project, how far we’ve come in just the last 12 months. In this update, I not only want to take a look at what got done in the last few weeks, but also highlight the milestone moments of the last year.

Over the last few weeks there have been some important items taking shape. Tiles, sinks, toilets, and light fixtures have been installed in some of the bathrooms. Below you can see the...

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November 13, 2020

Our twenty-first century campus center is starting to take shape inside the walls of our century-old building.

While work continues on various exterior projects, Swartz Hall crews have been making steady progress inside in recent weeks. In this update, I want to share with you some images of how the interior work is moving ahead.

The first set of photos shows the ground floor. Previously, this section of the building housed the Office of Operations offices and mechanical space, which took up a lot of...

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October 2, 2020

As we’re starting to head into colder, potentially snowier months, an important part of the renewal project is making sure the exterior of Swartz Hall is weatherized and ready to withstand a New England winter. This process allows the crews to continue working on the project while the temperatures and snowflakes fall outside.

Ensuring the roof is in good standing is an important part of this work. At over 100 years old, Swartz Hall has many unique features. One of those is the building’s slate roof.


Read more about October 2, 2020

September 2, 2020

We are starting off the fall semester eager to see everyone safely back on campus as we continue to renew Swartz Hall.

One of the most noticeable and significant portions of the project is the new space, which will contain the café and commons area, flexible classroom and event space, and meeting areas. This addition has really come together over the last few months. To give you some sense of progress, I wanted to highlight two exterior pictures for you. Below is a picture from January when the building foundation walls were being set for the addition...

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May 22, 2020

We will soon resume work on the Swartz Hall renewal and I wanted to offer an update on how we will proceed to ensure the health of all those involved in the project.

In compliance with recent guidelines issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Cambridge, construction activity at Swartz Hall on the Harvard Divinity School campus will re-start in phases beginning May 26.

To ensure work will be undertaken in the safest possible conditions, enhanced health and safety protocols will be implemented. This includes hand washing, physical...

Read more about May 22, 2020

April 3, 2020

It's April, and things have changed quite a bit since I last wrote. Given the changes that have taken place not just here, but across the world, I wanted to offer an update on the renewal effort.

The City of Cambridge recently instituted a temporary emergency construction moratorium. The health and safety of our entire community, including construction workers on our project, remains our top priority. We continue to monitor the ongoing public health crisis and together with our construction team, we continue to assess how the work stoppage order will affect the Swartz Hall...

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March 6, 2020

This week, March 1-7, is National Women in Construction Week. We join our partner on the Swartz Hall renewal, Shawmut Design and Construction, in celebrating this week, and I wanted to use this space to highlight some of the women working hard to renew Swartz Hall.

Women have been taking part in all aspects of the renewal project at the Swartz Hall construction site. They have been part of the demolition crew that readied the site for its transformation into a modern...

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February 21, 2020

Here we are nearing the end of February and, while the days can be quite cold, the work on the Swartz Hall renewal project is heating up.

About 100 laborers are busy performing work on the site, and that number will hold steady for the next few weeks. These workers include tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, mill workers, and many others. We’re grateful for the work they are putting in to help transform Swartz Hall into a modern, efficient, and accessible teaching, learning, and communal space for our School community.

... Read more about February 21, 2020

January 24, 2020

Welcome to 2020, which will no doubt be a momentous year for our School.

I hope everyone had a nice, restful winter recess. Typically the campus is pretty quiet while many of our students and faculty are away until the semester begins (this year on January 27). However, there was no shortage of activity taking place over this recent break.

Shawmut Construction and its crews were busy inside and outside Swartz Hall, transforming the century-old building into an energy-efficient, welcoming, and...

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November 15, 2019

In its more than 100-year history, Swartz Hall had never gone through a major renovation. While that meant its historic features and unique design (it is the only instance of Collegiate Gothic architecture at Harvard) were preserved, it also meant that its current functionality did not meet future needs.

One of the School’s main questions during planning for the current renewal was how do we maintain the former while changing the latter. In this post I want to offer some insight into how we are preserving the historical character of...

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October 18, 2019

The renewal of a century-old building encompasses some big changes. There’s the overhaul of the building’s electrical, plumbing, and climate control systems, the remodeling of entire floors, and, for our project, the buildout of a 3,200 square-foot addition.

But it’s the smaller items that can have just as big of an impact.

This week I wanted to highlight for you how we are thinking about Swartz Hall’s effect on the health of the people who will be working, learning, and visiting it.

... Read more about October 18, 2019

September 27, 2019

Although construction work on Swartz Hall has been underway since the end of May, an intimate, celebratory groundbreaking ceremony was held earlier this month to commemorate the start of the building’s renewal.

I wanted to share some pictures of this month’s groundbreaking with you and let everyone know that a community-wide celebration is being planned for when the project is finished and Swartz Hall is ready to open.

Speaking during the ceremony were Dean David Hempton, donor Susan Shallcross Swartz, Harvard President Larry Bacow, project architect Philip Chen,...

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September 13, 2019

Now that the academic year is underway there’s a lot of activity on campus—and I’m not just talking about the construction for the Swartz Hall renewal.

Weekly events such as Community Tea and Noon Service kicked off last week, and the School’s first major event of the academic year—Convocation—was an inspiring celebration of the life and work of Toni Morrison.

Beginning this semester, some of our regular and recurring events...

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August 23, 2019

Orientation takes place next week and that also means the fall semester is about to begin. With many physical changes happening on our campus over the summer, I wanted to share with you in this post several floor plans that can be helpful to illustrate how Divinity Hall and our new, temporary space at 60 Oxford Street have been reconfigured. The directory and all floor plans can be found on the HDS intranet.

The space at 60 Oxford Street will be...

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August 9, 2019

We’re in the thick of summer and we’re in the thick of demolition as well.

Inside and around Swartz Hall, crews continue to be busy with demolition and abatement work. Demolition work is not typically like what’s depicted on reality home-improvement shows. Safe and efficient demolition requires careful planning, lots of coordination, and oftentimes methodical work.

A lot of progress has been made on the ground floor of Swartz Hall. Crews were in there this week knocking down steel framing and carefully...

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July 26, 2019

Here we are about to close out July and head into August. It’s hard to believe that new and returning students will be back on campus in just about four weeks.

While there has been much work and activity taking place at Swartz Hall, there has also been significant effort to ready our temporary office and classroom space at 60 Oxford Street ahead of the fall semester. Classrooms are progressing, as you can see from the pictures I’ve included below. The focus the last couple of weeks has been installing audio/visual equipment. There are...

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July 12, 2019

There’s been quite a lot of activity taking place this week around Swartz Hall. You may have noticed that the cloister link is now nearly gone. Demolition began this week with crews using an excavator to remove the structure so work preparing that area for the new addition can begin. Demolition took several days as crews worked carefully to remove the cloister link, which was attached to the original building.

The work was impressive, and I’ve included several pictures below so you can get a sense of how it took place. You can see workers using water and a sprayer to help with...

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June 28, 2019

Let’s start off this entry with some amazing statistics about the Swartz Hall renewal project: 715 boxes and 18,000 books.

This is how many books faculty members and Andover-Harvard Theological Library donated to Better World Books. The social enterprise organization collects and sells books online, and funds literacy initiatives worldwide. Since its founding in 2003, it has diverted more than 250,000 tons of books from landfills....

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June 21, 2019

Prep work continues as we prepare for the Swartz Hall renewal. Crews are busy installing safety measures in and around the building, including lighting, signage, and fire alarms. Landscape work is also underway. While it may not have been as visible as the work happening on site now, preparation for this renewal has actually been taking place for some time.

I’m excited about the changes to come: the new multifaith space, modernized classrooms, enhanced collaborative areas, better accessibility, and improved carbon footprint. But I also realize that these incredible...

Read more about June 21, 2019