Cambridge Massachusetts


Built in 1911, Swartz Hall is at the heart of academic, administrative, and student life at the Harvard Divinity School, the first nonsectarian theological institution in the United States. In 2010, ABA completed a master plan that assessed existing conditions and program needs, established a preservation approach, and developed a phased plan for renovation and expansion.

The master plan resulted from an integrated and inclusive planning process involving Divinity School and University administration, faculty, and students; Divinity School and University engineers; and Harvard Green Building Services. The team also worked with the neighborhood council and city agencies to develop a design that preserved the historical character of Swartz Hall while expanding access and connecting it to its surroundings. Site and landscape options were developed in consultation with the University arboretum, the City of Cambridge’s engineers and arborist, and the neighborhood council.

Completely renewing the exterior and interior of the historic building, the master plan also called for relocating student services and the Divinity School café to Swartz Hall. With the addition of a 200-seat convening space for lectures, colloquia, and events, the building could become a new center for the five-building campus.

In addition to the master plan, ABA completed a study to achieve Net Zero Energy status for Swartz Hall, with a goal to dramatically reduce the energy consumption of the renovated and expanded building. The plan proposed upgrades to the building envelope, renovation or replacement of ventilation systems to enable energy recovery of exhaust air systems, and replacement of electrical systems, including lighting and controls. The planning team also examined opportunities for on-site energy production, exploring the possible installation of photovoltaic panels on the building and/or an adjacent site.

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Project Team: Philip Chen AIA, Ann Beha FAIA, Ed Rice AIA, Ji-Hye Ham AIA, Ian Miller AIA; Carl Damas; Amit Oza; Mark Pantano; Kristen Starheim; Sarah Rivard (ABA); Structures North Consulting Engineers (Structural); AHA Consulting Engineers (MEP/FP); Stephen Stimson Associates (Landscape Architect); Shawmut Design and Construction (Cost); Jensen Hughes (Code); Peter Vanderwarker (Photography)