Harvard Art Museums , Cambridge, MA

This historic museum underwent a wide-spread renovation and extension.

After shuttering their windows for six years to undergo a wide-spread renovation and extension, the historic Harvard Art Museums reopened their doors in November of 2014. Formerly three distinct museums, the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Sackler were joined together into a new building at 32 Quincy Street. With world-renowned architect Renzo Piano and local architect Payette, Arup was approached to reinvent what was once the Fogg Museum of Art. The extensive redesign preserves the Fogg Museum’s 16th century-inspired façade and courtyard, expands its total area to approximately 200,000ft2, and provides new and improved museum quality gallery spaces.

Arup provided the lighting and daylighting design, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and façade engineering services, as well as fire and life safety and sustainability consulting for the 200,000ft2 renovation and extension. Arup was committed to realising Harvard’s goal of reducing University-wide greenhouse gas emissions 20% below a 2006 baseline by 2016. Arup worked with the design team to craft a high-performance building that will emit 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per square foot than the existing buildings, which will help Harvard stay on track to meet their greenhouse gas commitments.

This project has achieved LEED Gold certification.

Finessing the fire safety design

 Arup, as fire engineering consultants for the project, proposed and received state approval for six alternative methods of fire safety design that helped limit the effect of life safety systems on the architectural design. A key achievement was the development and approval of an innovative smoke management strategy for the historic courtyard atrium. Arup’s design minimised the aesthetic impact of the smoke control and detection systems in the atrium and also justified a high degree of openness to adjacent areas on three levels through advanced fire and egress modelling. 

Showcasing the artwork without damage

Among the multiple and integrated services Arup provided, lighting and environmental controls were a particularly important challenge because museums require unique interior environments. Arup employed innovative mechanical systems in conjunction with a high-performance building envelope to control the internal environmental conditions in the gallery spaces, and worked with existing conditions to devise both artificial lighting and daylighting schemes that would simultaneously highlight and protect sensitive artwork.

Reducing the use of water

The team also achieved significant reductions in the building’s water use by specifying low flow toilets, sinks, and waterless urinals. Finally, reclaimed stormwater is used for toilet flushing.