Harvard’s Tozzer Anthropology Building Earns LEED Gold

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Almost two years after its May 2014 debut, Harvard University’s Tozzer Anthropology Building in Cambridge earned LEED Gold certification. The facility’s custom-engineered windows and curtainwall were placed in a staggered pattern throughout the brick- and copper-clad exterior, creating an abundance of natural light on the interior.

Known as the nation’s oldest anthropology library, the Tozzer Anthropology Building was originally founded in 1866 as part of the Peabody Museum. A new building was constructed in 1971 to house the growing collection of ethnology archaeology artifacts and other anthropological items; however, the three-story structure eventually became so deteriorated that it was considered uninhabitable.

A $12 million effort to bring the building up to modern standards included a 24,800-square-foot renovation as well as a two-story, 10,000-square-foot addition. Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) served as the architect on the project, while Consigli Construction served as the builder. Both companies have offices in Boston.

The main goal of the project was to bring sub-disciplines within the anthropology department into one shared location. Plus, the library needed added flexibility to accommodate its changing role, becoming more of a collaborative space. While the facility still houses approximately 54,000 volumes on two floors, it also features more offices, classrooms and informal gathering spaces that promote collaboration.

The existing building was stripped to its structural steel and designed to mimic the adjacent Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology with a brick façade and copper roof. An additional entrance was added to the rear courtyard, and the building now links directly to the Peabody Museum.

The new program is organized around a central birch wood atrium. The atrium extends to the fourth story and includes a social gathering space on the second floor. Offices, classrooms and informal gathering places surround this daylight-filled living space, creating visual relationships between levels and providing acoustic treatment. A light well circulates tempered air as part of an innovative energy-saving ventilation system.

Along with natural light and views, recycled and durable materials also helped the project achieve LEED Gold. The extruded aluminum frames that make up the building’s curtainwall and window systems contain recycled content averaging 70 percent or more. High-performance architectural finishes also contribute to the curtainwall and window systems’ durability and reduce the need for maintenance.