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Harvard Graduate Commons Program Renovations – Boston, MA


Harvard University


DiMella Shaffer




8,900 SqFt


14 weeks

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Soon after the successful completion of the phased lobby and mailroom renovation at One Western Avenue, Northstar and Harvard University Housing selected Trinity to undertake another challenging project. Harvard University Housing’s Graduate Commons Program provides centralized gathering locations for their graduate student population residing in their many on- and off-campus housing offerings. DiMella Shaffer’s design transformed the dull and dreary main common room into a multi-functional space that can be utilized for presentations, parties, meetings or group study gatherings. It includes living room style furniture, a lounge with fireplace, an extensive catering kitchen with bar seating and a back painted glass backsplash, and high-end AV and acoustic presentation and sound systems.

All of the building vestibule entrances and the storefront windows were reconfigured and upgraded, in addition to adding a decorative entrance canopy. The formerly underutilized courtyard patio area was revitalized with new lighting and furniture. With a refresh of the patio stonework, this is now a favorite gathering spot for students.

Concurrently, at another end of the building, the team transformed an uninviting and outdated elevator lobby and a well-worn study room into a children’s playroom for graduate students’ families. The playroom includes floor to ceiling millwork cubbies for toy organization, colorful patterned carpet, a chalkboard wall, a snack/kitchen area and a bathroom. The elevator lobby was reconfigured and a new feature wall seating area was added. This phased project was completed over a tight summer schedule. Challenges included a redesign due to unknown existing mechanical conditions uncovered during demolition, as well as maintaining egress in an occupied residential building.