Cambridge, MA The Richard and Susan Smith Campus Center recently opened at Harvard University. Designed by Hopkins Architects, who partnered with local executive architects Bruner/Cott, the 96,242 s/f project is a radical re-appraisal of the ten-story, 1966 Holyoke Center building designed by Josep Lluis Sert. It is part of a wider, ongoing “Common Spaces” initiative by the university to ensure its physical spaces foster the campus’s intellectual, cultural, and social experience and support the wider community.
Realized in consultation with Arup, the project reconfigures the first, second, and tenth floors, 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 spaces, interspersed with a captured internal and external landscape designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
The new Moise Y. Safra Welcome Pavilion at the front of the building creates a front door for the university and re-establishes a stronger connection between Sert’s Arcade and Harvard Yard. In the Arcade, by the careful removal of existing concrete fabric, light and view and landscape have been introduced into the heart of the building, changing the singular linearity of the Arcade while allowing its defining order to remain. A series of internal and external landscape “thresholds” mediate between the Arcade and the new Harvard Commons space—the central room of the Campus Center, around which are gathered a series of social and meeting spaces of a variety of scale and character.
The tenth floor has been completely re-organized to provide a flexible suite of formal and informal gathering spaces that openly engage Sert’s building with the campus, the Charles River, and the city of Cambridge beyond.
Hopkins senior partner Andy Barnett said “The Campus Center project has been an opportunity for us to create a new place for the university to come together, responding to Sert’s architecture in a manner that is bold, transformative and dynamic, but which, with each intervention, is grounded in and sympathetic to the history and design of the building.”
Bruner/Cott principal Henry Moss said “Bruner/Cott was pleased to partner with Hopkins Architects to realize their design plans for this seminal project. Our firm has worked with Harvard for more than thirty years on diverse initiatives including other Sert designs, so it was a pleasure to continue this relationship.”
Tanya Iatridis, senior director of University Planning said “Harvard’s beautiful new Smith Campus Center serves as the front door to our campus, and we’re incredibly grateful to the excellent work done by the Hopkins team as design architect and Bruner/Cott as executive architect. Their respect for Sert’s work, his vision of what the space means, and how it can work to enhance and enliven the area was extraordinary. The final product is a testament to the care and attention to detail they displayed throughout the project. We’re confident that the space will greatly enhance the public realm, create a usable year-round amenity, and result in a more cohesive and collaborative community.”