The Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center, Harvard University
Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Local Authority Area
Not in UK/ROI
Information about this scheme
The project is a radical re-appraisal of the existing ‘Holyoke Center’, designed by Josep Lluis Sert in the 1950’s, a remarkable work of urban design through its innovative proposals for street-level pedestrian space at the base of a ten-storey building.
The project reconfigures the first, second and tenth floors of the building, reinterpreting the history and logic of Sert’s architecture in a series of additions to and removals from the existing fabric to create a family of new internal and external spaces interspersed with ‘captured’ landscape. It is the keystone of the wider ongoing University ‘Common Spaces’ initiative designed to ensure its physical spaces foster the campus’s intellectual, cultural and social experience and support the wider community. Landscape is used innovatively throughout the project to provide experiences of greenery and planting that change with the seasons, and to create places of repose, calm and pause throughout the building.
A central landscaped vitrine brings light into the heart of the new common spaces, ‘green walls’ serve as meaningful thresholds and points of gathering, and roof terraces provide wider connectivity to the campus beyond. A bold architectural response was necessary to provide the right kind of new spaces and overcome the physical challenges of a complex Brutalist building that had been substantially altered over the years in piecemeal fashion. At the same time, the changes had to be handled with a sensitivity and understanding that would gain the required public approvals, meet budgetary constraints, and adapt and reuse the building in the most efficient way to gain maximum programmatic benefit.
Harvard have been actively monitoring the usage of all spaces within the Campus Center, demonstrating very heavy and often 24-hour demand for the spaces. What is particularly striking is how open and inclusive the Campus Center feels to visitors and the public. All main spaces are open for public use, yet speak strongly of ‘Harvard’, thereby forging stronger bonds between the wider community and the university, becoming a meeting point between ‘town and gown’, for the mutual benefit and enrichment of both.
Architects - Technical Delivery
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Faithful + Gould
Colburn + Guyette
Consigli Construction Company
Primary Use Class
Class D2 - Assembly and Leisure