Situated on the banks of the Charles River, McArthur Hall is Harvard University’s newest housing facility for its world-renowned Executive Education Program—an extension of the Harvard Business School. At 97,000 square feet and rising six stories, McArthur Hall provides much-needed housing for the heavily attended Executive Education Program. The exterior design COST PER SQ FT$232.00CITATIONSpecialized Facility CitationFEATURED IN2000 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized contemporary, yet maintains the traditional aesthetic synonymous with Harvard.
The success of the program relies on the continued interaction and exchange of ideas among participants. It was vital that the architecture of the building reinforce these principles. On the first floor, a reception area, lounge, library and interior courtyard offer ample opportunity for social activities and gatherings. Above, on floors two through six, the residential component consists of 160 single bedrooms and 10 guestrooms. Four suites of eight residents each occupy every floor. Bedrooms were designed to be small—the intent being to encourage residents to gather and study together in the common areas. The focal point of each suite is a lounge equipped with kitchenette, sitting area and study zone—again, to encourage residents to gather and engage in group discussion. All resident suites capitalize on river and courtyard views.
The exterior design of McArthur Hall interprets Harvard’s collegiate Georgian architecture with a contemporary edge. The classical massing of forms reduces the visual scale of the building, and architectural elements such as the pitched roof, dormer and bay windows, white trim, and chimneys further invoke McArthur Hall’s architectural lineage. The use of lead-coated copper roofing departs from the traditional use of slate and successfully distinguishes McArthur Hall from surrounding buildings.
An unexpected challenge was designing the roof. The original design called for cornices to add the finishing touch to the building. However, doing so would have resulted in the cornices extending over the property line of the small site. The design solution involved discontinuing the joining of cornices and extending the lead-coated copper roofing materials down to the fifth floor. The final design maintains balance and symmetry, while integrating building materials in a unique way.
"Elegant, sophisticated, all within Harvard tradition. Smart facility that blends skylights and modern atriums with early 20th-century design. Stunning!"—2000 Architectural Portfolio jury
Photographer: ©Edward Jacoby