Harvard University

Lowell House Renewal

Project at a Glance

Cambridge, MA


KieranTimberlake Associates, LLP

Project Type


Project Overview

  • The largest, most complex renewal of the River Houses on a high-profile site within a National Historic District on Harvard’s iconic campus
  • Managed complex, invasive construction activities in close proximity to occupied residence halls, requiring carefully coordinated delivery and load-out times
  • Significant self-perform scope including major demolition work and millwork installation

The Lowell House, one of Harvard’s famed Neo-Georgian River Houses, is a 221,940 sq. ft. residence hall originally opened in 1930. While renovations had been made over time, the interior configuration and M/E/P systems remained largely unchanged from the original construction, prompting the comprehensive renovation of this expansive facility.

Prior to the renovation, the Lowell House required extensive abatement and demolition measures; temporary protection and selective restoration of historic millwork and wallpaper; and extensive logistics planning, as he challenging site—flanked on all sides by occupied buildings or major campus thoroughfares—has only one available drive lane for deliveries and exterior access only by staging.

The revitalized space provides housing for 414 students and incorporates modern egress, accessibility and privacy requirements, while also refreshing the building’s dated academic and social spaces, including the House Library. New program areas were introduced including a suite of art, music, band and opera practice rooms; a makerspace with 3D printing and computer modeling capabilities; a 75-seat screening room; a student lounge that can accommodate large social gatherings; and a reconfigured lobby. All M/E/P and IT systems were replaced, with the goal of achieving a modern, energy-efficient building. Additionally, this iconic River House saw the restoration of its historic brick and limestone façade and a full roof and window sash replacement, all of which adhere to Cambridge Historical Commission guidelines for exterior preservation and the Department of Conservation and Recreation requirements for projects on the Charles River. The project is targeting LEED Gold certification.