Special Recognition Award: Harvard Law School Wood-Framed Houses Cambridge, Mass.

August 11, 2010

The project required three weeks prep work to move the houses, known as the Ukrainian (9,800 sf); the Baker (4,600 sf); and the Carriage House (1,500 sf). Thanks to strong collaboration among Building Team members, the physical move itself took less than five hours.
      
A century ago, majestic Victorian homes lined Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, but few of these grande dames still survive. Harvard Law School
   
To prepare for the move, each house was removed from its foundation, jacked up five feet and placed on steel beams. Very careful preparations were needed to ensure the structural integrity of the building during such a traumatic event.
    
The Carriage House was connected to the Baker house by a new courtyard and landscaping scheme. Smaller than the other two houses (at 1,500 SF), the house holds just three dorm rooms. It was painted yellow to match it s original color.
    
One of the high end kitchens, and a view into the living room of one of the living suites.
      
owned three such beauties, which they used for office and research space. Unfortunately, the houses occupied prime real estate on which the school planned to build a new academic center.

Rather than raze the historic wood-frame homes, the law school made it a priority to repurpose them. In June 2007, the three houses were moved like a caravan of circus elephants a half-mile down Mass Ave, relocated behind a residence hall, and converted into apartments for Harvard Law School students. The adaptive-reuse project also involved substantial restoration, repair, and replication of original details and features.

The project required three weeks prep work to move the houses, known as the Ukrainian (9,800 sf); the Baker (4,600 sf); and the Carriage House (1,500 sf). Thanks to strong collaboration among Building Team members, including Austin Architects, CSL Consulting, Davis Construction, and Shawmut Design and Construction, the physical move itself took less than five hours. Another few weeks were needed to get the homes settled, because scheduling and site conditions prevented new foundations from being excavated and poured ahead of time.   

The judges lauded the law school’s efforts to save these rare treasures. “It’s the moving issue that really intrigued me. They could have knocked them down, gotten rid of them,” says Walker Johnson, FAIA, principal at Chicago’s Johnson Lasky Architects and honorary chair of Building Design+Construction’s Renovation Awards judging panel. “They kept the character of Massachusetts Avenue. It’s a really interesting job.”





      

Project Summary

Harvard Law School Wood-Framed Houses
Cambridge, Mass.

Building Team
Submitting firm:
Shawmut Design and Construction (CM)
Owner: Harvard Law School
Owner’s Representative: CSL Consulting
Architect: Austin Architects
Structural engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Mechanical engineer: SEA Consultants
Building mover: Davis Construction

General Information

Total sf: 15,900
Construction cost: Withheld at owner’s request
Construction time: April 2007 to March 2008