Harvard University Northwest Science Building

Harvard University Northwest Science Building
Harvard University Northwest Science Building
Harvard University Northwest Science Building
  • Client Harvard University
  • Expertise Higher Education, Science
  • Region North America
  • Location Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Project Facts
  • Completion Year 2009
  • Design Finish Year 2005
  • Size Site Area: 144,000 Building Height: 90 feet Number of Stories: 4 Building Gross Area: 530,000 square feet
  • Awards
    2008, American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2009, Lab of the Year Award: High Honors, R&D Magazine 2009, Merit Award, International Interior Design Association - Northern California Chapter 2009, Build New England Award, AGC of Massachusetts 2010, Award of Excellence: New Construction Category, Structural Engineers Association of California 2009, Higher Education Design Award, Boston Society Of Architects 2010, Award of Merit: New Construction, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California 2010, Harleston Parker Medal: Finalist, AIA – Boston Society of Architects 2013, Most Innovative Project, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) 2013, Award of Merit for Structural Systems Design, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI)
  • Collaborators
    Haley & Aldrich Lerch Bates Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Rja Group Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc. (RWDI) GPR Planners Collaborative Fluor (Program Manager) Flack + Kurtz, Inc. Bard, Rao + Athanas
Project Facts
  • Completion Year 2009
  • Design Finish Year 2005
  • Size Site Area: 144,000 Building Height: 90 feet Number of Stories: 4 Building Gross Area: 530,000 square feet
  • Awards
    2008, American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2009, Lab of the Year Award: High Honors, R&D Magazine 2009, Merit Award, International Interior Design Association - Northern California Chapter 2009, Build New England Award, AGC of Massachusetts 2010, Award of Excellence: New Construction Category, Structural Engineers Association of California 2009, Higher Education Design Award, Boston Society Of Architects 2010, Award of Merit: New Construction, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California 2010, Harleston Parker Medal: Finalist, AIA – Boston Society of Architects 2013, Most Innovative Project, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) 2013, Award of Merit for Structural Systems Design, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI)
  • Collaborators
    Haley & Aldrich Lerch Bates Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Rja Group Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc. (RWDI) GPR Planners Collaborative Fluor (Program Manager) Flack + Kurtz, Inc. Bard, Rao + Athanas

Upon its completion, the Northwest Science Building marked Harvard University’s largest project in recent history. The facility houses neuroscience, bioengineering, computational analysis, and other programs under one roof and has become a model for a new generation of research environments.

When SOM set out to design the project, the client had several specific requests. The university wanted a highly efficient and flexible facility that could meet rapidly changing needs; a building that could be completed in as little time as possible; and a timeless piece of architecture that worked in concert with its surroundings. The site presented unusual challenges, as it was woven between six existing buildings and faced a quiet, historic neighborhood.

In response to these needs and conditions, the design team tightly stitched two intersecting, rectilinear volumes into the university fabric and added new paths and grassy yards. Inside, gathering spaces are sprinkled throughout, and laboratories act as configurable “lofts,” allowing the university to easily reassign areas to research teams. The building is appropriate in scale and embraces the organizational structure and architectural language of Harvard’s storied campus.