Harvard Science and Engineering Complex, Allston, MA, USA

Harvard Science and Engineering Complex

The proposed Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), located on Harvard University’s emerging Allston campus, integrates Harvard’s engineering programs into a single 497,000-square-foot structure. The new facility establishes a strong precedent for the development of outdoor space, street activation, and integration with larger public space networks, as described by the University’s Institutional Master Plan, which was approved in 2013. Built on top of the existing foundation of a previously-designed life sciences complex that was suspended in 2008, it accommodates teaching and research laboratories, classroom space, faculty and staff offices, and a host of amenity spaces.

Transsolar led development of the integrated climate and energy concept with special emphasis on three separate façade concepts, natural ventilation, and laboratory ventilation. Both the exterior screen surrounding the upper-level research boxes and the plinth terrace overhangs were carefully tuned for solar control and daylighting in response to orientation and program. All ventilation air for non-lab spaces passes through the two major atria before being reused as makeup air for laboratories. All non-lab spaces – including write-up spaces adjacent to labs, have access to natural ventilation. Write-up spaces also act as a buffer between laboratories and the exterior, cascading make-up air from write-up to laboratory.

The design team advocated for a detailed risk assessment in order to operate laboratories at the lowest possible ventilation rates, with extensive studies by Transsolar on the influence of ventilation rate on energy use. High-efficiency runaround heat recovery, including indirect exhaust air adiabatic cooling, is used on nearly all air streams. Laboratory plug loads were also predicted based on long-term monitoring of representative existing labs on Harvard’s campus. Annual energy consumption is predicted at 93 kBtu/sf, resulting in a 42% reduction in carbon emissions over an ASHRAE 90.1-2010 baseline building.

2021 LEED Platinum certification
2021 Living Building Challenge Petal certification: Materials, Beauty, and Equity