Behnisch Architekten, internationally recognized cross-disciplinary firm and leader in sustainable architecture, has announced that its design for Harvard University’s proposed Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) at its burgeoning Allston campus has been approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority at its Board of Directors’ meeting this evening. The new 497,000-square-foot complex will integrate an additional 70,000 square feet of public green space and establish a strong precedent for developing outdoor space, street activation, and integration with public space networks, as described by the University’s Institutional Master Plan. The firm’s Boston office is designing the project.
The SEC will house the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and will be among the most cutting-edge teaching and research facilities in the country. Located across from Harvard Business School and adjacent to the emerging enterprise research campus, the building will be home to more than 900 undergraduates, more than 400 graduate students, over 450 researchers, and initially, as many as 80 faculty members.
“The Science and Engineering Complex is a state-of-the-art facility that will enhance partnership across academic disciplines and encourage connections among the University, the community, and new partners in industry and research,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust. “The growth of our campus in Allston is an extraordinarily exciting opportunity in the Greater Boston region for collaboration, discovery, and innovation.”
Design integrates progressive sustainability agenda, addresses present and future goals
The SEC’s integrated, high-performance design supports SEAS’ teaching and research goals as well as the University’s highly progressive sustainability agenda. The six-story, state-of-the-art facility will feature teaching and research laboratories, classroom space, faculty and staff offices, and a host of amenity spaces on the above-grade levels.
“Our firm is delighted to move forward with the University’s Science and Engineering Complex,” said Robert Matthew Noblett, partner at Behnisch Architekten. “From engineering’s decisive influence on the discovery and resolution of some of the world’s most intractable problems, to the critical importance of cross-disciplinary efforts to achieve major research initiatives, to demonstrating genuine leadership in sustainable design and urban development — the SEC’s design pulls together a number of threads of contemporary life that are certain to impact coming generations.”
Additional teaching spaces, fabrication shops, core research facilities, and a loading dock will occupy two below-grade levels. All levels will be connected vertically by a central atrium space facing south toward the courtyard, which will deliver daylight to all floors and serve as the communicative heart of the complex.
Integrated sustainable features and building systems drive the facility’s design. Multiple atria, in combination with glazed interior partitions, will transmit daylight deep into the interior. The building’s façade is composed of three integrated systems that are designed to play a crucial role in the energy performance and occupant comfort in the building, incorporating daylighting, natural ventilation and stringent levels of thermal performance to maximize energy savings. Hydronic heating and cooling systems, which saves about one-third the energy of comparable air-driven systems, will provide efficient, silent, and draft-free tempering of interior spaces. User-controlled systems will allow the individual to set his or her own preferences for lighting, ventilation, and climate control.
Work on the complex is scheduled to begin this summer and the facility is expected to be completed in time for the 2021-2021 academic year.