85 Percent of Beds in Renovated Lowell House Will Be in Singles


Eighty-five percent of the 413 student beds in renovated Lowell House will be in singles, while just 15 percent will be in doubles, Joanne Aitken, the architect in charge of the renewal, said at a presentation to House affiliates Tuesday evening.

Aitken, a Philadelphia-based architect with the firm KieranTimberlake, presented the faculty deans, administrators, tutors, and students with finalized floor plans and mock-ups of residential and common spaces.

“There’s always been the bias...that a small but private room is a lot better than a lot of doubles with more generous space, and there’s lots of generous common room space,” Aitken said.

The only house so far whose renewal project has spanned two years, Lowell is slated to reopen by the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.


Lowell administrator Elizabeth G. Terry said she thinks the suite set-up is “a net improvement over old Lowell.”

“Every student in Lowell will be in some version of ‘n,’” Terry said, referring to a living arrangement in which the number of students living a suite is the same as the number of rooms. “There is only one room in the entire House that has any ‘n-minus,’ which means multiple one-room doubles in the suite. One room."

Aitken also unveiled new floor plays outlining the student spaces that the renovated Lowell House will feature on its lower levels, including a squash court, a dance room, a screening room, a game lounge, a pool lounge, a party room, and band and opera-specific music rooms.

“It seemed really exciting,” Lowell House resident Emily R. Gordon ’20 said after the presentation. “I had really high expectations and it looks even nicer than I expected. I’m really excited about all of the common spaces like the screening room and the squash court and the party spaces, and all the rooms look really nice.”

Terry said the majority of Lowell residents she has spoken to have said they are satisfied with the renovations.

Aitken also said the tables inside common spaces in the renovated house will be built out of salvaged wood from elm trees that had to be cut down to complete the renewal process. After construction ends, the house will also feature wallpaper procured from a centuries-old French manufacturer that matches the wallpaper originally in the Junior Common Room.

“The house has been lovely to work with all of these years,” Aitken said. “House renewal is to make the buildings last for another 80 or so years and function properly, while keeping the best of everything that was already there.”

“[The team] really is trying to keep Lowell a special House, different from Dunster, different from all the others,” she said. “You haven’t lost your personality in there.”

Lowell is the fifth house, after Leverett, Quincy, Dunster, and Winthrop, to be renovated as part of a renewal program spearheaded by the College. After Lowell’s renovation is complete, Adams House will undergo a four-year renewal.

Correction: March 14, 2019

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Lowell is the third house to renovated. In fact, it is the fifth house to be renovated.

—Staff Writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.