Post Date: February 10, 2005

The project’s architect is Sasaki Associates, Inc., of Boston and San Francisco, a firm responsible for existing fitness facilities at MIT and Brandeis University.

“Renovating Hemenway Gym will go a long way toward creating a campus that is worthy of our students,” said HLS Dean Elena Kagan. “One of my highest priorities is improving the quality of student life at the law school. We’ve already enhanced some of our classrooms and overhauled our student center. Fixing up the gym is the next big step in this process.”

“The new Hemenway will be a terrific contribution to the health and recreation of our students, faculty and staff,” said FAS Dean William C. Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History. “Our physical well-being, academic success and emotional health are all intertwined; I am delighted to support this big improvement to our athletic facilities.”

The rehabilitation will more than double Hemenway’s supply of fitness equipment, bringing state-of-the-art replacements for existing cardiovascular and weight machines. The building will also gain air conditioning and provide access for the disabled.

Hemenway’s three-story interior will be reconfigured. Three new international-size squash courts will replace the current seven American-size courts, and cardiovascular and weight equipment will be added. Locker rooms will be consolidated on two levels. The building’s top floor will continue to consist of a gymnasium, along with a multipurpose room fashioned from a former badminton court.

Few changes are expected to Hemenway’s cupola-topped brick exterior, which is part of the Cambridge Common Historic District and protected by both Cambridge and Massachusetts historic commissions. Hemenway’s eastern façade, facing away from Massachusetts Avenue and toward the North Yard, will be altered slightly. Three new windows will be added at the entry level and the entrance door replaced with a new door containing larger amounts of glass.

Constructed in 1938 based on design by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott, the present Hemenway Gymnasium replaced an older building of the same name that had occupied the North Yard since 1876. Originally featuring squash courts, a basketball court and a badminton court, Hemenway’s uses have changed over time as desire has grown for all types of recreational facilities, including cardiovascular and weight equipment and group fitness rooms. The building was last significantly modified in the 1960s, when a squash viewing area was added and some building systems were upgraded.