Harvard Art Museums renovation and expansion

On 16 November 2014 the renovated and expanded Harvard Art Museums opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after six years of planning. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, in collaboration with Boston's Payette, the project consolidates three of Harvard University's museums – the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger and the Sackler – into one facility. RPBW sent us some images and text about the project.
Exterior view of south façade
Harvard University’s three art museums – the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger and the Sackler – are being consolidated into one reorganized and upgraded facility, Harvard Art Museums, on the current site of the Fogg Museum on Quincy Street. The restored historic courtyard of the Fogg Art Museum will be at the heart of 200,00 sq. ft (18,500 sq.m) of new museum space.
Detail of south façade
The new facility will combine 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, will allow controlled natural light into the conservation lab, study centers, and galleries, as well as the courtyard below.
Prescott Street elevation
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 center is designed to make the collection of 200,000 objects more accessible for teaching and learning.
Exterior view by night
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 – will be restored and upgraded.
Exterior detail
Galleries and study centers are being significantly expanded; as befits their importance to the mission of the museum, the study centers are at the center of the building on level four. The conservation lab will continue 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 will be enlarged and modernized, and include an auditorium of 294 seats at basement level.
Lobby gallery
While the original entrance faces onto the university campus, a new entrance into the museum from Prescott Street symbolically opens the museum to the local community. Views from the interior courtyard through to the entrances on both sides of the building will help visitors to orientate themselves and there will also be secondary views, through the café and the shop, to Broadway and the Carpenter Center next door.
3rd floor gallery
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 museum from the street and bring daylight into the building in a very controlled way.
Strauss conservation laboratory
Gallery 2nd level
Renzo Piano’s sketch section
East West  building section Naturally Lit Courtyard
Calderwood  Courtyard section
Wood site model
Plan Level 1
Partner Building of the week
Harvard Art Museums renovation and expansion

Cambridge, MA, USA

Harvard Art Museums

Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Genoa, Italy

Design Team
M.Carroll and E.Trezzani (partners in charge) with J.Lee, E.Baglietto (partner), S.Ishida (partner), R.Aeck, F.Becchi, B.Cook, M.Orlandi, J.Pejkovic, A.Stern and J.Cook, M.Fleming, J.M.Palacio, S. Joubert; M. Ottonello (CAD operator); F.Cappellini, F.Terranova, I.Corsaro (models)

Associate Architecture

Structural Engineer
Robert Silman Associates

MEP Engineer

Civil Engineer
Nitsch Engineering

Lighting Designer

Facade Engineer/Code Consultant/LEED Consultant

Wood Scientist
Anthony Associates

Cost Consultant
Davis Langdon

Acoustical Consultant
Sandy Brown Associates

Carl Cathcart

Restoration Consultant
Building Conservation Associates

Nic Lehoux


Vectorworks USA