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An Upgrade to Campus Housing

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Sapan Shah, Community Editor

While the campus population was away making the most of the winter break, HBS Housing was approaching ‘the end of the beginning’ of their ambitious project—state of the art, luxurious dorm rooms for future HBS campus residents. Starting last year, the HBS Housing team began upgrading some of the empty dorm rooms with several important and necessary features. While rolling these changes out campus-wide would likely be a longer-term endeavor, the team put together two pilot rooms for current students to stay in and provide feedback on. The Harbus received an early bird invite for the same.

“We have been working with a number of stakeholders around campus to understand what the most desirable features of future on-campus housing might look like,” said Meredith Keaney, Associate Director of Campus Residences and Services. “We use pilot projects like this one to bring the drawings to life, they provide a tangible way for people to interact with the design and provide feedback on what works and where we need to go back to the drawing board” she adds. The pilot rooms will be instrumental in future planning on campus. The first two pilot rooms were in Chase Hall, for the layout, access and occupancy worked well for the upgrade team. 

Upon entering the dorm room, one is met with the distinct feeling of having stepped into a hotel room. The most important change from a typical dorm room is the zoning—a working area separated from the sleeping area, by the closet that acts as a partition. The working area contains a couch and coffee table—not standard issue for a dorm—along with a desk and office chair. The new desk is electrically adjustable, and requires the user to simply press and hold a button to switch between sitting and standing modes. 

Between the sleeping and working areas is a kitchenette—a new addition inside the dorm rooms. Typically, multiple dorm rooms in a corridor share a kitchenette. The addition of a similarly sized kitchenette with a microwave, sink and mini-fridge inside the room ensures sufficient convenience for the resident. The closet organization system is a part of the team’s conscious effort to optimize storage space in the room. Along with a chest of drawers in the sleeping area, the full-sized bed also doubles up as storage, with drawers added to the bottom. The bathroom is fitted with vanity lighting and under-sink storage, with a spacious, glass-walled shower area.

A lion’s share of the hotel-esque experience can be attributed to the lighting—multiple overhead and wall-based options illuminate different sections of the rooms as per their utility. The team has also worked on implementing a circadian rhythm dependent lighting schedule, which promises wellness benefits for the resident. Ample lighting in the desk area also ensures visibility of the user’s face on Zoom. 

Keaney invites students living in the residence halls to try out the pilot rooms and provide feedback to HBS Housing. “As the pilot rooms are occupied, we will have discussions based on feedback. We may change items in the pilot rooms to get more input. If we missed something that we get frequent comments about we may adjust the pilot rooms accordingly.” HBS Housing e-mailed current dorm residents in January regarding the process to register for a 1-3 night stay in the pilot dorm rooms.

On being asked about the potential timeline and roadmap for the campus-wide upgrade on rooms, Keaney responds, “We are currently in a planning phase of enhancing the residential experience on campus. This involves renovations for Morris, McCulloch and Chase as they are the most aging in our portfolio. The evaluation and planning process takes a couple of years and it will also take several years to renovate as we would only put one building offline at a time so we can still keep residential living at the heart of the HBS campus.”

The HBS Housing team is committed to improving the living experience of on-campus residents. Evidently, on campus living for future residents looks promising.


Sapan Shah (MBA ’23) hails from India. Before HBS, he worked in consumer goods and non-profit healthcare, and during the latter had been vital in the implementation of India’s HIV/AIDS control strategy. He spends his leisure time immersed in popular culture and quizzing.

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