The Social Sciences
Melissa A. Salce -- Interior Design, 11/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Scientists may be notoriously withdrawn, but design partner Craig Hartman felt that relations across fields at Harvard University's Northwest Science Building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, could be "very much enhanced by the way that the public spaces are brought together." The future facility is intended to encourage faculty and students to take an interdisciplinary approach. In addition to the requisite labs, classrooms, offices, and imaging facilities, the 460,000-square-foot building will include four "living rooms," double-height lounges internally connected by residential-scale staircases. The lounges will bring together molecular and cellular biologists with physicists and engineers, coaxing everyone to decompress, brainstorm, and build partnerships. Carpeted floors and panels of Forest Stewardship Council–certified pucté wood will keep the ambience warm. Lounge seating, near the floor-to-ceiling windows, and standing-height bars for laptops, farther back, will lend comfort as well as functionality. Furthermore, Hartman explains, "You'll encounter these spaces as you move through the different floors, so the entire building is woven together."
The building's two perpendicular wings will be joined more literally by a central nexus that facilitates the easy flow of people—essentially a grand stair hall with a glass curtain wall, pucté paneling, and an oversize second-floor landing. As befits a building in the Boston area, Hartman's team calls this spot the Hub.