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 Mark Nystrom, HDS’s director of facilities and operations.

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Swartz Hall Updates

August 6, 2021

Hello, everyone. My name is Mark Nystrom and I am the new director of facilities and operations at Harvard Divinity School.

I want to briefly introduce myself since I’ll be sharing information about the Swartz Hall renewal as we sprint toward the opening of the building in just a few weeks. I’ve enjoyed reading these updates from the now retired Ralph DeFlorio and I hope you’ll find the future ones just as useful and informative. I previously worked in operations and facilities at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School and...

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July 2, 2021

While much of my writing in these Swartz Hall project updates has focused on the renewal of the physical building, an equally important part of this endeavor is the improvements to the campus landscape.

As major work on the building has ended and we are racing toward its opening for the new school year, crews are busy readying the green spaces on campus as well. Our landscape plan was designed by STIMSON Landscape Architects. The Cambridge and Princeton, Massachusetts-based studio has worked on our campus for decades, all the way back...

Read more about July 2, 2021

June 11, 2021

As we move quickly toward the completion of the Swartz Hall renewal, our new spaces are starting to take their final shape. It’s exciting to see these areas, which started from a vision of inclusivity, accessibility, and sustainability, come to fruition. A particular area I want to highlight for everyone is the new multifaith space.

This space, one of the crown jewels of the project, is located in the old stack wing of Swartz Hall, on the second floor of the building. It reflects one of the primary goals of the renewal project—to...

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May 14, 2021

There are two new features of the renewed Swartz Hall that you’ll no doubt notice when you arrive back on campus, and I want to share the interesting way in which they came to be.

Two new gas fireplaces constructed for our campus as part of this project will no doubt be popular gathering spots. The first (pictured below) is located in the new Commons area on the ground floor of the addition. The dual-sided fireplace will be viewable from the new entrance to Swartz Hall and from the dining area.


Read more about May 14, 2021

April 9, 2021

A goal of renewing our century-old main campus building is preserving the historical character of Swartz Hall while increasing our energy efficiency and creating a welcoming, accessible, and modern environment.... Read more about April 9, 2021

March 12, 2021

As we continue moving closer to completion of the Swartz Hall renewal, one of the tasks underway on the project site is the installation of restored and replicated millwork. The millwork includes wall panels, doors, trim, cabinets, and more. These items are typically crafted elsewhere and brought on site to be installed.

For our project, we chose to work with Mark Richey Woodworking, based in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The local company has a reputation as one of the best woodworkers in the country, and because of their workers’s...

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February 26, 2021

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a talk about how we responsibly handle construction waste for the Swartz Hall renewal. During this conversation, which was part of an ongoing series of waste system and culture talks organized by HDS student Sakiko Isomichi, I was joined by colleagues from the renewal project contractor Shawmut Design and Construction and the Harvard Green Building Services group. I found the talk insightful and was thrilled that our recycling rate for the project was 87 percent—well above our target goal—so I wanted to share some of...

Read more about February 26, 2021

January 29, 2021

We made it to 2021. I’m optimistic 2021 will be a year of new beginnings, and that can certainly be said about Swartz Hall. We’re now in the home-stretch of the renewal project, just months to go before completion. With our anticipated occupancy date set for June—and occupancy of course depends on how the pandemic progresses—I wanted to take some time to highlight where we are in the project and what to expect in the coming, final months.

In the Braun Room, pictured below, plaster repairs are underway, to be followed soon by painting....

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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...

Read more about April 3, 2020

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
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