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What’s the Quad? Harvard’s Hidden Housing Gem

“I live in Pforzheimer House!” I proudly tell visitors as I introduce myself to tour groups. Because it is not a member of the nine original Harvard residential houses located by the Charles River, residential houses in “the Quad” are not often the first thing that people think of when they think of Harvard housing due to their relative newness (Yes, for Harvard, 100 years is new). However, as a proud “Quadling,” as we Radcliffe Quadrangle residents call ourselves, I figured I use this blog post as an opportunity to highlight the amazing attributes of Harvard’s “hidden gem” housing.

Quad History– What is it?

Located less than a mile north of the historic Harvard Yard, the Radcliffe Quadrangle consists of three houses: Pforzheimer House, Cabot House, and Currier House. Additionally, there is a Harvard College Student Organization Center located right by these houses where student club offices are located, as well as where many conferences and student mixers take place. Originally constructed in 1901 and used as housing for the Radcliffe College women, Quad housing became integrated and available for all Harvard students in the early 1970s. The Quad is a wondrous place on campus known for its spacious, modern-style rooms, its cafe and grill, as well as its serene residential surroundings.


My house, Pforzheimer House (also known as “Pfoho” for short–Harvard kids really do love shorthand words) was originally known as “North House” until it was renamed in 1995 to honor the life-long philanthropy of the late Carl and Carol Pforzheimer. It is the home of the Quad Grille, a recording studio, a dance studio, a relaxation & spa room, a two-story dining hall, in addition to all of the other standard facilities of a Harvard House –a gym, library, dorms, kitchens, and common rooms. Moreover, the large majority of the house is all connected together in one building! That means if you’re like me and like to sleep in on the weekend and roll out of bed at 1pm for brunch in pjs, that can all be true in Pfoho (even when it’s below freezing outside).


Find out more about Pforzheimer History & its amenities here.

Map showing location of the Quad

Quad Appreciation

  • Shuttle rides to class:

Because of the Quad’s relatively farther distance to classes than other residential houses along the Charles River, Harvard provides shuttles that take Quadlings to the main campus yard everyday. Incredibly prompt and beautifully furnished, the Quad shuttle is a great place to catch up on coursework, see other Quad friends, or chat with the sweet shuttle drivers. This system often means that I walk less to class than my other friends in River Houses who are technically closer to the main Harvard academic buildings. I can leave the Quad at around 10:55 am for my 11:00 am class and be totally on-time. Moreover, this separation between “class” and “living space” definitely fosters a sense of separation that makes coming back to the Quad everyday reminiscent of coming home for the day when I lived back home. 

  • Access to Porter Square, Scenic Views & Wide Open Spaces:

Positioned in between Porter and Harvard Squares and nestled within residential Cambridge, the Quad gives its residents access to everything from Starbucks and great Thai food three blocks away to a spacious green lawn perfect for an impromptu soccer match or nap on a hammock. The view is also gorgeous! Very instagram worthy.

Quad lawn

  • Quad Community:

One of the best things I love about the Quad is that despite having three different houses, Quad students definitely feel a bond together that one would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Often times, the Quad feels like one big community–where on any given day I can have dinner with my friends in Currier House, go to the cafe in Cabot House to study, and back to Pfoho for some Netflix and rest.The Quad even has an annual formal dance together! The Houses that live together, celebrate together!


Friends at a formal event

  • Every House Can be a Home:

Echoing the sentiments from previous bloggers that have discussed about housing day, no matter which house a Harvard student is sorted into, each and every house can and will become a student’s home. When I come home to Pfoho, I look forward to unwinding, getting the occasional (or maybe, a little more than occasional) snack from the Quad Grille, and catching up with friends over a late night coffee breaks in the dining hall. I’ve found that my house experience has been inextricably linked to my Harvard experience. There’s a reason why when most Harvard students are asked “which house is the best house?,” they proudly exclaim their own. Because Harvard housing is not simply a building where I live, but rather a community of friends, mentors and really great food that have enriched my living experience at college and make me excited to head home at the end of each day.

Man standing in front of Pfoho door

If you visit Harvard, be sure to add the Quad on your lists of must-sees! (especially Pfoho).


Below I’ve attached the 2016 Pfoho Housing Day video to give you all an idea of the spirit of the Quad. Within the days before housing assignments are announced to the freshman, each house committee produces a short video to both get freshman excited for upperclassmen housing and show off the amenities, talent, and perks of the House. This year, Pfoho put a spin on the new Star Wars movie!  Featuring our Faculty Dean Jon Durant and our mascot polar bears.

About the author

Hey everyone! My name is David, and I’m a senior in Pforzheimer House. I’m studying Government with a secondary field in Economics. I hail from the sunny Los Angeles metro area and am happy to rep... View full profile

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