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. Improved lighting was installed and a new event support area was created just off of the room to make hosting events easier. What will also make life in Swartz Hall easier—and more accessible—are the new bathrooms on the first floor, where there were previously none.

Braun Room plaster repair in Swartz Hall in January 2021

Plaster is also being repaired in the chapel space. When finished, the chapel will be safer—a fire detection and suppression system was installed—and more accessible—a ramp was installed for those needing assistance to reach the elevated portion of the space.

Chapel in Swartz Hall under renovation in January 2021

Over in the Old Stack Wing, recently delivered shelving to house Andover-Harvard Theological Library’s special collections will soon be installed.

New AHTL stacks shelving in January 2021

During the next few months, the upper floors of the Old Stack Wing will undergo a significant transformation as they are turned into the School’s new multifaith space. Crews are currently fireproofing, completing steelwork, and wall framing the space. When finished, the new area will be a welcoming, inviting space for members of the HDS community who represent more than 30 different religious traditions, and none.

Once safe to return to campus, one of the most significant changes to Swartz Hall—the addition—will encourage connections, transform teaching and learning, and offer a welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors. On the ground floor, a new, accessible entryway will lead to the commons where a new café, double-sided fireplace, and meeting areas will be located. On the upper floor of the addition, a new event space and flexible, modern classrooms are currently being outfitted with a teaching wall and interior metal panels. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows help tie the inside to the Campus Green area just outside.

Framed teaching wall in multipurpose space in Swartz Hall in January 2021View from multipurpose room in Swartz Hall in January 2021

The exterior of the addition will offer a new, accessible front door to HDS’s main campus building, along with an outdoor fire pit and new plantings across the landscape. This exterior work will occur closer to the completion of the project.

Exterior view of Swartz Hall addition in January 2021

We’re almost there, and I look forward to the day we can all safely gather back on campus and celebrate this renewed building that will enable many future generations of scholars of religion to learn and grow.

Site work. Rough carpentry is ongoing throughout the building, including plastering in the stairwells. Window installation is ongoing throughout the building. Work on interior finishes continues, including window trim, painting, and door and hardware installation. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work also continues throughout the building. Installation of a second elevator in the multipurpose addition is scheduled. All activities are subject to change based on weather or other circumstances.

—Ralph