Kyu Sung Woo's Harvard Housing Goes LEED Gold


Photos: © Timothy Hursley - The Arkansas Office

10 Akron Street, Kyu Sung Woo's smart new graduate student housing complex for Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, has received high praise from the US Green Building Council: a Gold LEED rating.

Among other sustainable touches, the 115,000 sq ft brick-and-timber building features regionally-sourced siding with recycled content, bamboo flooring and wall paneling, and low-VOC finishes, while building systems are designed and engineered to minimize energy usage. Inside, two-story study lounges and other public spaces rendered in warm tones help to foster a sense of community. And each apartment is designed for maximum flexibility.Outside, a graceful seasonal garden designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates with plantings native to New England connects a courtyard to the riverfront terrace. Made of two rectangular blocks that resemble an L from above, the building also maintains the scale and massing of Cambridge's riverside houses, with one half of the L hanging over a much smaller base.


Improving Context Too
Aside from a nod at Machado & Silvetti's LEED silver One Western Ave housing across the river, The building's rectilinear design owes something to Peabody Terrace, the concrete housing project by Jose’ Luis Sert that has rarely been well received by neighbors or students. Renovations to Peabody Terrace in the 90s cost three times the original cost of the buildings. (Sert's Poloroid-camera-esque science center at Harvard hasn't fared much better.)

Woo, whose ingenious Interlocking Puzzle Loft we've mentioned before, studied and worked with Sert, but here at least, he's outdone his teacher. Last year, Woo was the first architect to be awarded the Ho-Am Prize for the arts, which is commonly referred to as Korea’s Nobel Prize.


Harvard's Housing Hope
The building houses 215 beds in over 30 different suite types, and includes a faculty director’s suite, a fitness room, study lounge spaces, a multipurpose room, and a garage that extends under the building, as well as the courtyard, and a new public open space along Memorial Drive.

Harvard commissioned it as part of its ongoing effort to house 50 percent of its graduate, professional and doctoral students, in order to build a strong residential campus community and alleviate pressure on the local housing market. New construction on campus is likely to grind to a halt as the University copes with stinging billion dollar loses to its endowment.

Of the University's 600 buildings, 24 are now LEED-certified -- more than any other university. And now, at least one is a comfortable place to live.


Kyu Sung Woo at Architectural Record.
Harvard University Office for Sustainability
World Architecture News

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