Facility Focus (Student Centers)

Harvard University: Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center

Harvard University 

PHOTOS © NICK LEHOUX, MIDDLE PHOTO: © JANIE AIREY

Despite being one of the most highly recognized university campuses in the world, Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, did not have a centralized campus center. Consigli Construction Co., Inc. led the reconstruction, renovation, and restoration of the former Holyoke Center, originally built in the 1960s, into a modern and functional building renamed the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center.

The project creates a new and welcoming “front door” for the university, transforms the building into a campus center for Harvard, and includes an extensive restoration of the original Brutaliststyle façades. The project also reflects the university’s commitment to sustainability, containing eight 20-foot-high living “green walls” with more than 12,000 plants that are irrigated by UV-filtered water from the building’s rooftop to help improve the building’s air quality. The complex project required careful planning and management as the building had to remain open and fully operational to the 500+ occupants and 10,000 daily pedestrians on the adjacent streets during the entire project.

Key areas of the project also included: The Moise Y. Safra Welcome Pavilion, which required the outfitting of a signature “front door,” a two-story glass and steel enclosure; Harvard Commons, a large gathering space for all that features an open-air glazed vitrine garden accented by birch trees and evergreens; Dunster Pavilion, containing restaurant uses below a structurally reinforced roof garden; and a below-grade parking garage.

After 36 months, the removal of 975 tons of demolition debris, and the reconstruction and renovation of six key building areas, the building now offers an array of dedicated gathering spaces, and was dubbed “a crossroads for the entire community” by the Harvard Gazette.