Harvard University Offices at 1414 Massachusetts Avenue

Academic | Daylighting
LOCATION: Cambridge, Massachusetts
COMPLETED: 2004
SIZE: 25,000 sq. ft.
OWNERS: Harvard University
ARCHITECT: Gensler
PHOTOGRAPHER: © Lam Partners

DESIGN TEAM:Paul Zaferiou
 Will Lewis

This four-story interior office renovation in historic Harvard Square challenged the design team to bring the presence of daylight throughout a virtually windowless space with limited access to the sky.

Studies of various roof-mounted reflectors and lightwell configurations using scale models and a heliodon led to the use of three south-facing polished stainless steel reflectors and a tapered lightwell to redirect available sunlight down through the interior floor openings below.

Each reflector is fixed in place to reduce cost, and is aimed to optimize available sun throughout summer, winter, or equinox. Structural beams were enlarged to baffle low-angle direct sun from the east and west.

From the interior, the mirror-like reflectors present views of blue sky as direct sun shines down the shaft all the way to the ground floor, 42 feet below. Sunlight sweeps across the light well as it catches each reflector in turn during the sun’s rise and descent.

As many as five sunlight passes per day can occur in the summer months, and the dynamic nature of the sun penetrates the full height of the narrow, windowless space, providing a valuable connection to the outdoors throughout the building core.