Where does inspiration emerge?

HKS Magazine | Winter 2015
View from John F. Kennedy and Eliot Streets View from Eliot Street Courtyard and South Building Winter Garden Forum entry West Building view from Charles Hotel complex

Where does inspiration emerge?

In a little under four decades, imagination and energy transformed what was an MBTA rail yard into the home of one of the world’s most extraordinary places of learning—a place that is more than bricks and mortar, more than square footage and acreage. But square footage has its advantages. The school’s students and faculty and staff, the classes and lectures and brownbags, the high-visibility guests, the special events—they all vie for limited space. In the language of architects, the school is currently “hyper-utilized.” The Campaign for Harvard Kennedy School provides a unique opportunity to give physical expression to the school’s ambitions: reimagining the way the school opens to the outside world; creating new types of spaces for teaching and learning; reinventing the school’s public spaces.

The plans for an expanded and modernized campus, subject to regulatory and permit approvals, include flexible classrooms and collaboration areas, and create spaces equal to the school’s famed convening power. Appropriately, for a school that defines itself by its public service, the school will also be more open to the city around it. Square footage, but in service of a mission.

The most dramatic feature of the new proposed design is possibly its treatment of the school’s central space. While the school’s official entrance is located on JFK Street, its unofficial entry is on Eliot Street. Pedestrians, cyclists, cars, trucks (and presidential motorcades) all share that ramp, and much of the space in the sunken courtyard below.

The new campus design essentially raises the courtyard up to street level, creating a new central green space, which would be accessible by pedestrians and cyclists through dramatic gateways (vehicular traffic would be directed, via a ramp, to an underground loading dock).

The new construction will include two new buildings over entrances from Eliot Street and from the pathway that separates the school from the Charles Hotel complex, as well as a new, glass-enclosed building stretching from the Littauer Building to the Rubenstein Building.

The new south building will be home to a dramatic dining and lounge area, as well as creative study spaces.

Dining and lounge

Campus Blueprints

Eliot Street gateway building from courtyard

Building for the Future

Concerns over the building project’s environmental impact and sustainability have been at the heart of the school’s planning, leading to the formation of an advisory panel chaired by Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development Bill Clark, focusing on issues ranging from energy consumption to building materials to recyclables in the cafeteria.

The school expects a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification for all new buildings (with some aspects receiving a platinum certification). The use of a more sustainable HVAC system using chilled beam technology will help minimize energy use. The school is also pursuing the use of solar photovoltaics on the roofs of the new buildings.

Large water storage tanks will be used to collect excess rainwater and recycle it for non-potable uses. Resilient features, such as protection from flood damage for electrical equipment are also built into the design. And the school will also build parking for almost 200 bicycles, including some long-term, sheltered spots.

Proposed designs subject to regulatory and permit approvals. Architectural renderings courtesy of RAMSA.

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