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The Smith Campus Center, One Year Later

Half of the initial budget for the Smith Campus Center was spent developing a new font for the building's sign, which students have heralded as both "tasteful" and "reminiscent of Helvetica".

Cambridge, MA- Almost one year ago, students awoke to a transformed world. The Holyoke Center, the beloved home of everything from university offices to university offices, was renamed the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, beginning an ambitious renovation project to transform the building into a social hub for students. Now, almost a year into the project, students are finally seeing the results of the renovation, and they love it. In this exclusive SatireV retrospective, we will exclusively retrospect over the monumental changes that have occurred in less than 525,600 minutes (which, after all, is how you measure a year).

Perhaps the first change that strikes the eye is the new boxing glove that punches visitors in the face when they open the Smith Campus Center doors. The second change is, obviously, the new vertical blinds on the second floor. “There was a big argument in the planning stages about whether we would go for vertical or horizontal blinds,” says Mike Taylor, senior partner for Hopkins Architects, who is coordinating the project. “Horizontal was undoubtedly the safe choice. But then we thought, safe is boring. We want unsafe.”

The $3 million change has been met with enthusiasm from the Harvard community. As Mark LeSalle ’17 puts it, “It keeps out the sun.”

Another transformation has been the development of the Smith Campus Center in accordance with the University’s new Common Spaces program for community-oriented places on campus, which has brought not only gray chairs to the Science Center Plaza, but also colorful chairs to Harvard Yard. The Smith Campus Center represents a dramatic new addition to the program. “For the Smith Center, we wanted to switch it up a little,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust. “Not only did we want to bring chairs, but we also wanted to add a little bit of empty space, so that students can have the opportunity to mill around aimlessly, looking lost.”

The Smith Campus Center, known by students as the “Smithy” (due to the blacksmith’s shop in the basement, where they can purchase horseshoes or replacement spokes for their wrought-iron fences), will retain its popular eateries: Al’s (home of the Harvard Square Café Special), Oggi Gourmet (home of Steve’s Egg Sandwiches), and the Pharmacy (home of Adderall). However, these restaurants will also receive extensive renovations. For instance, the architectural plans signal that the floors will be mopped.

The Harvard University Health Services will also remain headquartered in the Smith Campus Center, in order to provide easy-access medical care for the Harvard community. The only exception to this is the radiological equipment in the basement, which had to be removed in order to make room for the blacksmith’s shop. The X-ray machine has been transported to the Allston campus, although no one is exactly sure what that means.

© 2014