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Tradition and Sustainability in Harvard Divinity School’s Swartz Hall

The Harvard Divinity School (HDS) stands as a beacon of intellectual leadership and spiritual diversity. Since its inception in 1816, HDS has grown and evolved, now embracing more than 45 faith traditions from around the world. This evolution is beautifully mirrored in the recent renovation of Swartz Hall, a 1911 structure that has been thoughtfully revitalized to meet the needs of a modern, diverse student body while preserving its historical essence.


From Andover Hall to Swartz Hall


Formerly known as Andover Hall, the building was completed in 1911 to house the Andover Theological Seminary. Harvard acquired the building in 1935, and it has since been an integral part of the university. The recent renovation by Annum Architects, formerly Ann Beha Architects, has transformed this historic structure into a vibrant and inclusive space. The project included new electrical, plumbing, and climate control systems, remodeled floors, and a 3,200-square-foot addition.


A Space for All


The revitalized Swartz Hall now boasts a 200-seat multipurpose room, ideal for large events and colloquia. A new café area serves as a communal space for students and faculty to gather, fostering a sense of community and collaboration. The historic chapel has been restored to improve accessibility and inclusiveness, ensuring that it serves as a welcoming space for all.

Moreover, the renovation included the consolidation of the school’s special library collections. This strategic move freed up space to create three new levels of classrooms, workplaces, and a multifaith worship space complete with an ablution room, catering to the diverse spiritual practices of the student body.


Sustainability at Its Core


Harvard Divinity School’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is evident throughout the renovation. Swartz Hall has been awarded LEED Platinum certification, a testament to its green credentials. The building envelope was rehabilitated, internally insulated, and fitted with high-performance windows to achieve approximately 38% annual energy savings.


The design prioritizes healthy materials, excluding harmful chemicals to ensure the well-being of construction workers and future occupants. The rejuvenated landscape includes the planting of more than 50 trees, creating a verdant campus green that enhances the overall aesthetic and environmental quality of the site.


Custom Furniture by Eustis Chair


An integral part of the Swartz Hall renovation involved the inclusion of custom-designed furniture to complement the building’s historical and modern elements. The team at Annum Architects reached out to Eustis Chair to design a custom chair for the project. Eustis Chair, known for our expertise in creating durable and sustainable furniture, designed and built 40 custom Mid-Century customized modern chairs in FSC-certified Red Oak. These chairs, inspired by historic Danish and Swedish chairmakers, feature the proprietary Eustis Joint construction, ensuring longevity and durability with a 20-year warranty.


Design Excellence


The design interventions in Swartz Hall are both transformative and respectful of the building’s original architectural vocabulary. Each element serves multiple design purposes, resulting in a space that is elegant, welcoming, and spiritually resonant. The jury for the Honor Award praised the design’s restraint and the seamless integration of new elements with the historic fabric of the building.


Recognizing Excellence


The project team, led by Ann Beha FAIA, Philip Chen FAIA, Ed Rice AIA, Amit Oza AIA, and Mark Pantano, collaborated with a host of consultants and specialists to achieve this remarkable renovation. Their collective efforts have not only revitalized a historic structure but have also created a dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable campus gateway.

Annum Architects’ achievement at Swartz Hall has been recognized with yet another award, underscoring the excellence of their work in preserving and enhancing sacred spaces. For more details on this remarkable project, visit the Sacred Places website here.


Tradition Meets Innovation


At Eustis Chair, we are inspired by the thoughtful blend of tradition and innovation in the Swartz Hall renovation. This project is a shining example of how historical buildings can be revitalized to meet contemporary needs while maintaining their unique character and significance. We celebrate Annum Architects’ achievement and look forward to seeing how this transformed space will serve the Harvard Divinity School community for generations to come.


Are you interested in hearing more about the Mid-Century Modern Chair by Eustis Chair? Contact us today. We are always happy to work with you. Call or message us to discuss upcoming projects and renovations.

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