Facilities of Merit 2006: Hemenway Gymnasium Renovation Harvard University

Hemenway Gymnasium Renovation Harvard University

Cambridge, MA
Year in Showcase: 2006

Project Description

Deemed a “first-class renovation” by one panelist, Hemenway Gymnasium’s transformation from an underutilized squash facility into a state-of-the-art fitness center offers a fine demonstration of architectural restraint.

Located on the Harvard Law School Yard, the gym has historic landmark status, which mandated presentations to and approval by the Cambridge Historical Commission for any exterior modifications. The exterior received extensive attention to its red slate roof and its double-hung, wooden windows, all of which were retrofitted with double-glazed, low-E glass units. Apart from this, only three new windows were added to the east facade. The real change took place inside the gymnasium.

Previously loathed for its labyrinthine floor plan featuring 12 tightly packed American squash courts, Hemenway was gutted to provide much-needed fitness facilities. The building’s first four levels, windowless for much of their existence, are now light-filled spaces visually and physically connected by mezzanine balconies and a new open stair featuring maple from two demolished squash courts. This not only greatly improves circulation, it also encourages views into and out of the facility.


Judge's Comments

The introduction of the vertical circulation void, combined with the new windows, provide the fitness areas with natural light on multiple levels.
— Darryl Condon

This project accomplished an unbelievable feat of integrating state-of-the-art facilities within this historic structure. Bright, modern and colorful interiors nicely contrast the traditional exterior.
— Chris Kastelic

The renovation is a study in designing a building vertically. Through stacking the weight and fitness spaces, the architect showed tremendous discipline and restraint.
— Anita Moran


Project Details

Architect: Sasaki Associates Inc.; Watertown, Mass.
Funded by: University funds
Major facility components:

Cardio and strength equipment areas, stretching areas, gymnasium, multipurpose room for fitness classes, three international squash courts, lockers and small café with wireless Internet access.


Construction Cost: $8 million
Square Feet: 28,000
Occupancy: September 2005

Aerobics Flooring: Horner Flooring Company

Basketball Backboards/Supports: Draper Inc.

Climbing Walls: Eldorado Climbing Wall Co.

Court Panels/Glass: McWil - Courtwall

Dryers: Speed Queen

Elliptical Equipment: Precor Inc.

Fitness Center Flooring: Mondo USA

Flooring: Dal-Tile Corp.

Free Weight Equipment: York Barbell Co.

Lighting: Sportlite Inc.

Multipurpose Surfaces: Mondo USA

Rowers: Concept2 Inc.

Stair Climbers: Precor Inc.

Stationary Bikes: Precor Inc.

Strength Equipment: Icarian Fitness Equipment

Surface: McWil - Courtwall

Treadmills: Precor Inc.

Volleyball Nets and Standards: Draper Inc.

Wall Padding: Draper Inc.

Washers: Pellerin Milnor Corp.


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