Harvard University Planning Common SpacesHolmes Field

Harvard University Planning

MVVA has participated in two large-scale planning projects at Harvard to create a long-term vision for the campus based on comprehensive analysis of existing landscape functions and future goals. We see Harvard’s landscape as a mosaic of heterogeneous components. Even Harvard Yard, which seems at first glance to be a uniform whole, is really a group of connected, but very different, spaces. Although the pieces generally work well together, each has individual characteristics not repeated elsewhere. Understanding and shaping this mosaic, including its patterns of use and unexpected adjacencies, is essential to developing common spaces that are appropriately located, designed, and programmed.

Common Spaces

In 2007, MVVA collaborated with Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects on a large-scale planning project for Harvard University. MVVA identified underused portions of the campus and developed strategies to redesign and reprogram these sites, and to connect them to the social vibrancy of nearby Harvard Square.

Implementation began in the summer of 2009 with the placement of movable chairs in and around the Yard to encourage socializing.

Several small-scale interventions emerged from the larger planning effort, including the Beer Garden at Queen’s Head Pub, the Pritzker Commons at the Science Center, and the Lamont Shade Structures.

Pritzker Commons

A decade later, MVVA collaborated with Hopkins Architects on a key initiative of the Common Spaces plan: transforming the former Holyoke Center into a welcoming new hub of student life and a destination for the Harvard and Cambridge communities.

Holmes Field

In 2010, MVVA collaborated with Harvard University’s Planning Office and architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on a comprehensive plan for the Holmes Field District at the north end of Harvard’s Cambridge campus. The plan unites a collection of existing and planned campus buildings, open spaces, and sports fields into one cohesive district. It envisions a range of potential development densities, so the plan remains flexible and relevant as the University’s needs and resources change over time. This plan laid the groundwork for several new and revitalized buildings and landscapes which are now in various stages of design, construction, and completion.

MVVA’s work at Harvard Law School is a direct result of the vision put forth by the 2010 master planning effort.