Education Featured

Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center Opens

Cambridge, MAThe Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center recently opened at Harvard University.

Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center – Photo:  Nic Ledoux


Designed by Hopkins Architects, who partnered with local executive architects Bruner/Cott, the 96,242sf project is a radical re-appraisal of the 10-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.

Photo: Nic Ledoux

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 10th 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.

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