Dunster House, one of Harvard University’s 12 residential houses, accommodates undergraduate students. Built in 1930, the 195,000 SF neo-Georgian River House needed renovations and upgrades to its outdated building systems and IT infrastructure.

Acentech provided telecommunication systems and WiFi design consulting using Air Magnet predictable analysis software. The first phase of this process involved registering all of Dunster House’s building characteristics and obstructions that could influence WiFi signal strength into Air Magnet. Then, each stationed WiFi access point and its signal strength were overlaid onto the program’s rendering. Modifications were made to ensure the scheduled WiFi access point layouts compliment users’ needs. For example, it might be necessary to add more access points to areas with high traffic and data demand, such as dining halls and common spaces. Using this predictive model allowed our experts to make any necessary changes to the layout before the physical network was actually installed.

Growing from one floor all the way up to six over the past 80 years, Dunster House transformed from a simple dormitory into a communal center for the entire university. Harvard added tutoring suites, Deans’ and Masters’ residences, junior and senior common rooms, and even a dining hall to this residential space over time. Since available real estate within this historic section of Cambridge comes at a premium, Acentech’s IT design team had to find a way to accommodate the current and future needs of the university without the option of acquiring more space. In the end, all telecommunication and technologically sensitive rooms were strategically located to meet wiring standards. Also, communications circuits passing through the lower level of Dunster House had to be protected during demolition and construction to minimize impact on surrounding buildings.

Acentech’s role as an IT consultant during every phase of the project eliminated the possibility of any technological roadblocks to this time sensitive endeavor. Updating all wired and wireless technology systems while maintaining the historic character of Dunster House was a challenge, and Acentech was honored to help with such a worthwhile project.

Upon completion, the building is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.

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