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Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex completes

Behnisch Architekten designed the project.

May 26, 2021 |
Harvard SEC exterior at dusk

All Photos: Brad Feinknopf

Harvard’s Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), designed to inspire learning and scientific discovery while showcasing sustainability, has completed construction.

The eight-story, 544,000-sf building is organized into three four-story volumes connected by two glazed, multi-story atria that provide light-filled social hubs for faculty and students. The upper stories are clad in a facade with a layered design that celebrates and calibrates the scale of the large volumes that comprise the research activities of the building, creates an identity for the complex, and plays a crucial role in the efficient energy performance of the building as well as occupant comfort.


Harvard SEC exterior


In total, four principal facade types are used, including the world’s first hydroformed stainless-steel screen, which wraps the laboratory portion of the structure. This facade is precisely dimensioned to shield the interior from solar heat gain during warmer months while admitting beneficial sun during the winter. The screen also reflects daylight towards the interior while maintaining large view apertures.

Classrooms, makerspaces, teaching labs, and amenity spaces occupy the floors closer to the street, helping to showcase student work and engage with the community. The classrooms and meeting spaces vary in size and layout, ranging from typical, theater-style classrooms with sloped floors and fixed seating to flexible spaces that can be reconfigured into flipped classrooms for student-led discussions.


Harvard SEC aerial


Located in the upper volumes are wet and dry research labs that provide researchers with solitude and security. Flexibility is ensured via modular, flexible laboratory environments, smart zoning of highly ventilated zones from dry spaces, and robust delivery of centralized lab services. Generous lounges located between the laboratory blocks provide connection points for students and faculty.

The SEC has been certified LEED Platinum.


Harvard SEC facade


Harvard SEC interior stairs


Harvard SEC lobby space


Harvard SEC workspace

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