Harvard University’s three art museums – the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger and the Arthur M. Sackler – are being consolidated into one reorganized and upgraded facility, Harvard Art Museums, on the former site of the Fogg Museum on Quincy Street. The restored historic courtyard of the Fogg Museum is at the heart of 200,00 sq. ft (18,500 sq.m) of new museum space.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Photographs : Nic Lehoux, Michel Denancé

The new facility combines the Fogg’s protected 1920’s Georgian revival building, with a new addition on its east side, along Prescott Street. A new glazed rooftop structure bridges the old and the new. The rooftop addition, designed with sensitivity to surrounding historic structures, allows controlled natural light to enter into the conservation lab, study centers and galleries, as well as the courtyard below.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Photographs : Nic Lehoux, Michel Denancé

The original 1920’s building by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbot Architects, was the first of its kind, combining museum space, teaching and conservation in one facility to promote scholarship. Following this tradition, the new centre is designed to make the collection of 250,000 objects more accessible for teaching and learning.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Photographs : Nic Lehoux, Michel Denancé

All post-1925 additions and alterations have been demolished to make way for the new extension on Prescott Street. All aspects of the historic building – structural, mechanical and technical – are restored and upgraded.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Photographs : Nic Lehoux, Michel Denancé

Galleries and study centers are significantly expanded; as befits their importance to the mission of the museums, the study centers are at the center of the building on level four. The conservation lab continues to occupy the top of the building, above the study center under the new sloping glazed roof. Public amenities, and support spaces for special events are enlarged and modernized, and include an auditorium of 294 seats on the lower level.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Section

While the original entrance faces onto the university campus, a new entrance into the museums from Prescott Street symbolically opens the museums to the local community. Views from the interior courtyard through to the entrances on both sides of the building help visitors to orientate themselves and there is also be secondary views, through the café and the shop, to Broadway and the Carpenter Center next door.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Photographs : Nic Lehoux, Michel Denancé

At the north end of the extension a winter garden projects beyond the main gallery volume. This and other glazed sections of facade in the first-floor exhibition space allow views into the museums from the street and bring daylight into the building in a very controlled way.

Courtesy of RPBW, Payette – Floor Plan

Project Info :

Architects : Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Payette
Project Year : 2014
Arborist : Carl Cathcart
Project Area : 204000.0 ft2
Client : Harvard Art Museums
Acoustics : Sandy Brown Associates
Restoration Consultant : Building Conservation Associates
Photographs : Nic Lehoux, Michel Denancé, Aerial by Lesvants.com
Project Location : Harvard University, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Design Team : M.Carroll and E.Trezzani (partners in charge) with J.Lee, E.Baglietto (partner), S.Ishida (partner), R.Aeck, F.Becchi, A.Stern, B.Cook, M.Orlandi, J.Pejkovic and J.Cook, M.Fleming, J.M.Palacios, S. Joubert; M. Ottonello (CAD operator); F.Cappellini, F.Terranova, I.Corsaro (models)

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