10 Akron Street Cambridge, Massachusetts
Architect Kyu Sung Woo has designed a new graduate housing complex for Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. The 115,000 SF project is a part of University’s ongoing effort to house 50 percent of its graduate, professional and doctoral students, further supporting a strong residential campus community and helping to alleviate pressure on the local housing market. The scheme houses 215 beds in over 30 different suite types, and includes a faculty director’s suite, a fitness room, study lounge spaces, a multipurpose room, and a garage that extends under the building, its courtyard, and a new public open space along Memorial Drive.
Woo’s 115,000-square-foot, U-shaped building surrounds a Michael Van Valkenburgh—designed courtyard garden. The north elevation and the west arm of the U (which runs along the river) are both seven stories tall, while the east side is three. An entry portal at the U frames an axial view of Peabody, while the courtyard opens to a park on the south. The project recalls Harvard’s River Houses through its brick, and responds to their scale and massing with its mid-rise elevation. It references the backdrop of Peabody Terrace with portions of concrete-colored siding. The low-rise block of the building steps down to the Riverside neighborhood, complementing its modest scale. “The building responds to its context with a two-story porch creating a gateway for Harvard as well as providing a view corridor for the community,” says Woo.
One of a series of residence halls being built with a strong sustainability component, the project reflects Harvard’s “Green Campus Initiative” with numerous strategies, including brownfield redevelopment, recycled materials, efficient fixtures, high-insulation roofing, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and natural ventilation and lighting. Together, these resulted in the building receiving LEED Gold certification.
Floor-to-ceiling glass allows dramatic views from the modest-size rooms. Windows at the terminus of double-loaded corridors bring in light, while, as Woo notes, other interventions, such as top-floor skylights and different color accents, animate the halls. In the lobby, an LCD monitor provides a dashboard for tracking energy use and other conditions, and also encourages resident students and building staff to observe green strategies within the building. “Residents of 10 Akron and 5 Cowperthwaite Street [another dorm built the same year] are pitted against one another each year in a friendly competition during Earth Week to see who can use less heat, electricity, and water,” commented Lisa Valela, a program coordinator at Harvard.
Owner: Harvard Real Estate Services
Total construction cost: $56 million
Gross square footage: 115,000 sq.ft.Completion date: July 2008
Architect: Kyu Sung Woo Architects