Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) has selected the Basel-based architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, design consultant, and New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB), architect of record, to design a significant transformation of the School’s primary campus building, Gund Hall, into a twenty-first-century center of design education and innovation. The proposed expansion would include new space to be integrated into the heart of the School’s existing structure. The reimagined facility will embody the School’s visionary and cross-disciplinary work at the intersection of design, pedagogy, research, and practice.
As a global leader in each of its fields, Harvard GSD is redefining the future of design as a response to increasingly complex issues faced by cities and ecologies, people and places around the world. This innovative approach involves a cross-disciplinary collaboration among the School’s departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning and Design, as well as Harvard GSD’s Doctor of Design, Doctor of Philosophy, Master in Design Studies, and Master in Design Engineering degree programs. This approach also represents a deepening engagement with other academic fields, including medicine, business, government, public health, and the humanities, and degree programs with Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This, along with the growth of the School, has expanded the scope and purpose of Harvard GSD’s pedagogy and mission.
“The GSD’s groundbreaking collaborations with theoretical and applied disciplines, and other professional schools at Harvard, bring collective expertise to bear in addressing the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time through design innovation,” says Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, Harvard GSD. “Herzog & de Meuron and BBB have carefully studied and observed the School’s many qualities and characteristics, and they have a bold design vision for the GSD and its engagement with other disciplines and professional schools across Harvard, and for its impact on the world. We are excited to collaborate with both firms on the creation of an important and dynamic center for design innovation here at the GSD.”
The proposed new space will encourage new forms of cross-disciplinary collaboration by creating an anchored point of intersection among the School’s current studio workspace (known as “the trays”), faculty and departmental offices, seminar rooms and classrooms, research library, production and fabrication facilities, and new interior spaces designed for informal meetings, social gatherings, and public programs. The new addition is expected to add only a minimal amount to Gund Hall’s physical footprint, eliminating the need for additional land and thereby preserving Harvard GSD’s green space and basketball court.
“Since the 1980s we have been in close contact with Harvard GSD for teaching and research projects,” say Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Founding Partners, Herzog & de Meuron. “We’ve met several generations of professors, staff, and students. We learned from the talent and excellence of many of those people from across the world. Also, we have always admired the intellectual spirit and free-thinking atmosphere of the School with its mythic Gund Hall building. We envision transforming this building by excavating, adding, and connecting spaces that will support communication and exchange within the GSD community. We are very excited to be awarded this project, and look forward to working with all our friends and dear colleagues in the years ahead.”
BBB and a series of consultants will collaborate with Herzog & de Meuron to design the project. Herzog & de Meuron and BBB bring significant institutional experience to Harvard GSD. BBB’s work at Harvard spans over 14 years, including the recent renewal of Winthrop and Adams Houses. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have previously taught studios and presented a number of public lectures and exhibitions at Harvard GSD over the past three decades.
“We are excited to continue our work on Harvard’s campus, and to be partnering with Herzog & de Meuron. The Gund Hall project goes beyond expansion, to re-visioning a building that is both professionally important and personally meaningful to us as designers,” says Elizabeth Leber, Partner, BBB. “It resonates with our firm’s philosophy of sustainable transformation of existing buildings to adapt to many types of change.”
The architects were selected through a two-stage process organized by Harvard University. The project’s designer selection committee included Harvard GSD faculty and staff members, together with University-appointed design advisors. Concept and schematic design development for Herzog & de Meuron’s proposal has commenced and will continue through the summer months, and is anticipated to be completed during Fall 2018. The launch of the Gund Hall expansion project was made possible by a generous gift by Ronald M. Druker. Harvard GSD will be working to secure further philanthropic support for this proposed project.
Designed by Australian architect and Harvard GSD graduate John Andrews, Gund Hall opened in 1972. The facility offers a stimulating environment for the School’s 900+ students, 100 regular and 70 visiting faculty, and 150 staff, and includes studio and office areas; lecture and seminar rooms; workshops and darkrooms; an audiovisual center; computer facilities; a cafeteria; a project room; Piper Auditorium; and Frances Loeb Library. The yard area is used for outdoor activities; as an exhibition area for class projects; and as the setting for commencement ceremonies. The central studio space extends through five levels under a stepped, clear-span roof that admits natural light and provides views toward Boston. The dramatic facade and extensive glass surfaces make an eloquent statement about the design excellence and professional creativity for which the School is known.
About Herzog & de Meuron
Herzog & de Meuron is a partnership led by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron with Senior Partners Christine Binswanger, Ascan Mergenthaler, and Stefan Marbach. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have been visiting professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Design since 1994 and professors at ETH Zürich since 1999. Herzog & de Meuron have designed highly recognized public facilities such as the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games, the Tate Modern in London, and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, as well as a number of distinguished private projects including apartment buildings, offices, and factories. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have been awarded numerous prizes including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (USA) in 2001, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (UK), and the Praemium Imperiale (Japan) in 2007.
About Beyer Blinder Belle
Beyer Blinder Belle, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is a broad and award-winning practice in New York City and Washington, DC, with a longstanding commitment to design excellence, social integrity, and sustainable practices. The firm’s multi-faceted portfolio encompasses preservation, urban design, and new construction projects that span a wide spectrum of building typologies and sectors, including cultural, civic, educational, residential, and commercial. In addition to their work at Harvard, BBB has completed planning and design projects for leading academic institutions, including Amherst College, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago.
About Harvard University Graduate School of Design
The Harvard University Graduate School of Design is dedicated to the education and development of design professionals in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design. With a commitment to design excellence that demands the skillful manipulation of form and technology and draws inspiration from a broad range of social, environmental, and cultural issues, the Harvard Graduate School of Design provides leadership for shaping the built environment of the twenty-first century.