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Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center

Harvard Real Estate | Cambridge, MA

The 1960-1965 Holyoke Center at Harvard has undergone a transformation of its entire lower two floors and highest level to become the new Smith Campus Center. The 10-story building occupies a full city block with four active street frontages in the heart of Harvard Square. A much-needed modernization and radical reorganization of uses brought new spaces into the public sphere with multi-story linkages throughout the site. It is part of Harvard’s ongoing ‘Common Spaces’ initiatives, intended to ensure that its physical spaces foster intellectual, cultural, and social experiences on campus.

Bruner/Cott worked as Executive Architect with Harvard’s client team and with Hopkins Architects, the project’s Design Architect on extensive planning and programming for this once-controversial campus icon. The now-historic architecture of Josep Lluis Sert has been carefully reinterpreted with increased transparency across the first and second floors and improved connectivity between the original arcade and two busy side streets. A series of additions and removals at the exposed concrete walls and piers in the arcade introduce light into the heart of the building, while remaining respectful to the logic of Sert’s original design.

Newly accessible landscaped plazas at the north and south ends of the site, a dramatic roof garden, and an interior birch grove reinforce the building’s openness to Harvard Square and mediate between the Arcade and the new ‘Harvard Commons’ space – the multi-level central room of the Campus Center. Flexible interior spaces for performances and other events attract and mix the university’s varied constituencies– faculty, undergraduates, staff, graduate students, and visitors from the public-at-large.

The building’s tenth floor is converted to a suite of engaging formal and informal meeting spaces, as well as a café. The lower floors have six new food venues within, as well as a new restaurant facing a major side street. Building envelope work included full concrete restoration and introduction of safety and solar improvements to the building’s fenestration.

Photography by Janie Airey and Nic Lehoux.


2021   BE+ Green Building Showcase | Health + Wellness Award
2019   Boston Society of Architects | Harleston Parker Medal Winner
2019   Boston Society of Architects | Education Facilities Design Award
2019   Architect’s Journal | AJ100 Retrofit Award, International Category
2019   Architectural Review | New Into Old Awards, Finalist
2019   AGC MA | Performance Award
2019   Cambridge Historical Commission | Preservation Award
2019   CISCA | Gold Award of Excellence
2019   Civic Trust Awards | Finalist
2019   ENR New England | Best Higher Education/Research Project
2019   Society for College & University Planning | Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions, Renovations, or Adaptive Reuse, Honorable Mention
2019   World Architecture Festival | Best Use of Natural Light
2019   World Architecture News | WAN Awards, Adaptive Reuse Finalist

In the Press

Metropolis, For a Time, Josep Lluis Sert’s Brawny Buildings Defined Modern Boston
Retrofit, Harvard University Updates a Brutalist Structure that also Supports the Wider Community
Architectural Record, Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center, Harvard University by Hopkins Architects
Facades+, Harvard Updates Skin of Brutalist Campus Center for 21st Century
Boston Globe, In Adventurous Building, Harvard Gets a ‘Front Door’ Open to the Public
Building Design + Construction, One Harvard’ initiative injects new life into campus center
Concrete Construction, Restoring a Concrete Façade
Dezeen, Harvard’s brutalist Smith Campus Center receives dramatic makeover by Hopkins
High-Profile, Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center Opens
NEREJ, Hopkins Architects and Bruner/Cott Complete Smith Campus Center at Harvard University
School Construction News, Harvard Debuts Revamped Campus Center
Spaces4Learning, Harvard University: Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center
World Architects US, US Building of the Week: Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Cente
World Architecture News, Harvard University Project Enhances Community Spaces
RIBA Journal, Still Brutalist, but Lighter and Brighter
ARCHITECT , Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center at Harvard University
Architect’s Newspaper, Hopkins Architects moves forward with revamp of Sert’s Holyoke Center at Harvard

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96,242 sf