The Hasty Pudding building, which has awaited substantial renovations since Harvard purchased it a few years ago, was at one point termed a potential dance space. But concerns about the feasibility of getting the city approvals necessary to increase the size of the building’s footprint turned it into an unrealistic choice.
So Bergmann and OFA Director of Programs Cathleen McCormick began touring other FAS-owned facilities with McIntosh and Zewinski.
Hemenway Gymnasium, which FAS leases to the Law School, was an early promising candidate both for dancers and for the admissions office—another Radcliffe Yard tenant searching for space before its lease expires—because it is underutilized and can easily be reabsorbed by FAS.
But only the main gym was a potential space for dancers, which McCormick says would have resulted in a net loss of space compared to the Rieman complex. In addition to a large main volume used for performance—roughly the size of Hemenway’s gym floor—Rieman has nearly twice that square footage in offices, rehearsal rooms and other dance program space.
So Hemenway is no longer on the table for dance, College administrators say. They say the last they heard, the undergraduate admissions office would likely snatch up that space when it, too, is evicted from its Byerly Hall home as part of the Radcliffe Institute’s redesign.
The 29 Garden St. graduate student apartments—formerly home to the Harvard Parking Office and the Harvard University Police Department—were also proposed as a potential dance space. The building has one large room, originally a ballroom when the building was a hotel. But, like Hemenway, the room was too small and also had structural issues.
Another prospective site across the river near the athletic fields, a vacated University Operations Services warehouse at 175 North Harvard St., had too low a ceiling, and its open space was disrupted by columns.
Finally, a dramatic proposal to substantially change Hilles Library—including turning part of the building into a dance studio, while keeping ample study space for Quad residents—was floated. University planners consider Hilles a prime spot for potential renovations because its check-out rate is extremely low and its collection only occupies about half the shelf space.
But College administrators say renovations to that building, which is structurally complicated and thus not easily modified, would have been prohibitively expensive and impractical. Hilles, which has long served multiple and varied purposes, remains on the table as a future site for College growth—but not for dance anytime in the near future.
There are thus only two possible replacement dance spaces currently on the table—the QRAC and the Market Theater—neither of which is ideal.
Major problems with the QRAC include the fear of depriving Quad residents of much-needed amenities and concerns about pitting student athletes against student artists.
Bergmann says that, ideally, the creation of additional dance space would not displace other undergraduate groups.
“To give us space that other students desperately need hurts the students,” she says.
While scenarios for turning the QRAC into a joint dance-recreation facility are under consideration, any renovations to the structure would be complicated by tensions with Cambridge residents. The QRAC’s neighbors, who originally opposed its construction, might be reluctant to see additional renovations, especially since the center is largely underground and would likely be difficult to convert.
On the other corner of campus, planners are eyeing the potential theater space at the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Arrow Street. The much-anticipated building is intended to replace the original Market Theater that Carr launched at Winthrop Square in fall 2001—a space which he decided to close after just one season.