Harvard University Bike Shelter

Allston, MA, USA

Harvard University Bike Shelter

Allston, MA, USA

The new building for Harvard’s Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) combines a cutting-edge location for scientific research and teaching with innovative design and a sustainable building concept. As one of the first construction projects undertaken by Harvard University at its new site in Allston, it also sends a clear signal, exemplifying the vibrant development of the outdoor facilities on the campus and the integration of existing public facilities into the urban infrastructure.

The Harvard University Bike Shelter is situated at the SEC’s southwest entrance. This covered parking station for approximately 100 bicycles is tied into Allston’s extensive regional network of bike paths, promoting cycling as a healthy and sustainable way of getting around. Its remarkable design adds a lively emphasis to the southern edge of the garden area.

The SEC is committed to an exacting standard of sustainable design, interdisciplinary research, and experimental construction, as implemented in the new building. The shelter’s distinctive wooden structure is consistent with this vision. The canopy explores the strength and lightness of mass timber construction and is one of the first cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures in Boston. Using a folded system, the two shelters—consisting of thirty-six (twenty and sixteen respectively) triangular CLT plates in different geometrical configurations—vault between slanted steel columns and interlock with CNC-mitered joints stitched together with mechanical fasteners. The 5-inch thick CLT plate consists of five layers of spruce, which are glued in alternating grain directions to provide exceptional structural stiffness. The folded geometry of the plates provides intrinsic rigidity that spans 16 feet between the columns. The wooden CLT roof is waterproofed with a prefabricated EPDM membrane contoured to fit the precise geometry of the roof and protected by a larch rainscreen on top. This protects the underside of the CLT canopy from the elements.

The wooden fence is comprised of repeating modules of acetylated pine slats that are fixed on a pretensioned stainless-steel rod. The set of nine slat profiles are rotated at different angles and arranged to create a playful and free-form composition which relates to the landscape design and residential scale of the neighborhoods to the south of the campus.

The wooden canopy structure, which was engineered by Jan Knippers Ingenieure and Fast + Epp, was prefabricated in Gossau, Switzerland, by Blumer-Lehmann and installed by the Cheviot Corporation. The fence was fabricated by TriPyramid Structures of Westford, Massachusetts.

  • Location

    Allston, MA, USA

  • Client

    The President and Fellows of Harvard College

  • Architect

    Behnisch Architekten

  • Address

  • Photography

    Igor Dantas (1)
    Brad Feinknopf (2-4)

  • Completion