It is a project that has taken years, but the eye-popping new Science and Engineering Complex at Harvard University has recently been completed. This is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to research and study with wet and dry laboratory spaces, offices and more. The Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) will be a space to achieve more understanding in the fields of materials science, computer science, bioengineering, robotics, mechanical engineering and other disciplines.

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The SEC is right across the Charles River from Harvard’s historic Cambridge campus and is part of the Allston campus. This impressive building has eight levels and 544,000 square feet of space. It’s right on a thoroughfare that connects Allston to Cambridge. The project includes new public spaces along with makerspaces and teaching labs. The lower floors of the building have landscaped Engineering Yard areas for recreation and enjoyment.

Related: Solar-powered Harvard ArtLab to meet net-zero energy targets

room with orange, red and white furniture

This is a beautiful building and a sustainable one, but it is also a temple to learning itself. The SEC houses a large part of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science. There are 69,120 square feet of wet research lab space and 24,000 square feet of dry research lab space.

Most impressively, the complex has earned LEED Platinum status and Living Building Challenge certification. The building and Harvard itself are committed to sustainability.

lab with white desks and orange chairs

Two multi-story atria create bright, well-lit social areas for everyone to enjoy. There are also five acres of roof terraces. The upper stories of the building are made with a layered design that gives the building a distinct look but also helps improve energy efficiency.

layered facade with shading

“Behnisch custom-designed the world’s first hydroformed tensile façade system that significantly reduces solar gain at glazed openings and enables the use of low-energy, high-comfort radiant systems for interior climate conditioning,” according to a press release. “The design team also incorporated water-based heating and cooling systems that use one-third the energy of comparable air-driven systems, large glass atria and highly glazed interior partitions that transmit daylight deep into the heart of the building, and five acres of vegetated roof terraces.”

lab with white tables and green chairs

Benhisch Architekte, the architecture firm behind the design, was tasked with creating the “healthiest building on the Harvard campus.” The architects have achieved the goal in a truly remarkable way.

+ Benhisch Architekte

Photography by Brad Feinknopf via Behnisch Architekten