with Leers Weinzapfel Associates
The Harvard University Library Services (HULS) building is located at the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is home to Harvard’s Weissman Preservation Center and administrative offices for the 90-plus libraries that compose Harvard’s library system.
The building was built on a very constrained site, flanked by historical houses in an area known as the "Gold Coast". The siting of the project maintains the street edge on Mt. Auburn Street, reestablishes a link through the center of the block, and recreates a through-block pathway towards the river houses. Working closely with the Cambridge Historical Commission, the Harvard Square Advisory Committee and the Harvard Square Defense fund, the scale and proportion of the building was carefully considered. Along the sidewalk, retail space activates and enlivens the pedestrian experience . A geothermal system allowed the mechanical systems to be removed from the roof of the building to reduce the height of the structure and to eliminate potential noise from the units in the neighborhood .
With four stories above ground and two stories below ground, the building’s exposed concrete structure maximizes floor to ceiling heights and minimizes the scale of the building on the site. Each floor is organized with open and flexible work spaces grouped at the north side of the core. This takes advantage of the abundant natural illumination from the North facing curtain wall and provides visibility into the building for the community.
Photo Credit: Paul Warchol