Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA


This project explores collective housing through the form of a student dormitory for undergraduate students in Harvard University. The positioning of the site in the center of Harvard Square business district becomes a catalyst for a new type of dormitory, one which renounces the cloistered condition of a conventional ‘Harvard House’, and instead actively engages the city, and fosters social interaction across a variety of scales.


The intervention begins at the urban scale, through identifying the fragmentary nature of Harvard’s sub-campuses. The current Ratcliffe Yard campus area lacks the cohesiveness of the Harvard Yard area.  Through a series of small scale interventions, a new sub-campus axis is created to give a new internal identity to the area. Anchoring the new axis is the location of the new dormitory, situated amidst Cambridge commercial life and at the center of the entire Harvard community as a whole. 


An exterior, urban atrium invites the public to circulate up across the void, where various public programs were embedded among the dormitory programs.  The public auditorium, gallery and tutoring center were all designed to enable students to give back to the city, through acting, making, and teaching.  This void also becomes the through-passage way for people accessing the rest of the Ratcliffe campus. 



The urban atrium is visually an extension of Church st.  It invites the eye upwards into the building plaza, which serves as a gate way to the Ratcliffe campus as well.


The main atrium erodes through the massing to create a public circulation and program loop that spirals along the atrium, ending in the public sky garden.

Interweaving Public / Private Programs


Various public programs - auditorium, gallery, tutorial center - spiral up into the building along the main atrium, ending with the sky garden.





At the architectural scale, a series of smaller atriums form central voids for internal dorm clusters.  Together, this system of voids become the primary organizational generators across the multiple scales of public and private.  


Dormitory units wrap around individual atria, and are divided between single, double, and 4-bed units.  Clusters of units are arranged in a tetris-like manner that enables buildings to have public circulation only every other floor, optimizing effciency and allowing each double height unit to access light from two directions.  Furthermore, each unit has a outward facing balcony, and collectively it results in a series of vertically connected balconies along the exterior facades, encouraging social interchange at the scale of the units.



Each of the five dorm clusters are organized around an interior atrium


Unit Aggregation with Exterior Connective Balconies








© 2009