On a prominent, highly visible site within Harvard University’s Allston Campus, a celebration of the beauty of infrastructure is beginning to take shape. Designed by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates, the 58,000 square foot Allston Campus District Energy Facility (DEF) represents a new, highly efficient infrastructure typology, delivering electricity and water for the campus, whilst simultaneously showcasing the intricate complexity of engineering and design.
The scheme places an emphasis on publicizing an often-hidden infrastructure. The façade of the DEF is dominated by a wrapping of metal fins, alternating between varying degrees of openness to frame views of various equipment areas within. On the public face, the fins are raised above ground level to reveal the main equipment hall, inviting the public to observe a complicated system of chillers, boilers, piping, pumps and flues. Appropriate for a science and engineering campus, the scheme serves as a teaching tool for the university – a working exhibit of the invisible nodes and arteries which support the living environment.
At the core of the Leers Weinzapfel scheme is a dedication towards efficiency and resilience. Equipment systems will be elevated above flood level to enable continuous operation of the facility even in the event of electrical grid failure, whilst a chilled water reserve tank provides thermal energy. On an urban scale, the compact cubic form of the scheme maximizes flexibility for future development, whilst maintaining a bold, refined presence.
The realization of the new District Energy Facility will enhance reliability and resiliency and maximize the use of academic space… it will actively support the academic growth of Harvard’s expanding Allston campus – Jane Weinzapfel FAIA, Principal, Leers Weinzapfel Associates.
With construction underway, the Harvard University Allston Campus District Energy Facility is due for completion in 2019.
19 Text description provided by the architects. On a prominent site between campus and city, this critically important large infrastructure facility fits comfortably among its smaller academic neighbors, preserves an important green space, and frames the gateway for a new campus entry.