Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex: World’s first hydroformed façade

Institutional / 2nd Quarter 2022

Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex: World’s first hydroformed façade

June 15, 2022

Completed in 2021, the complex in Allston, Massachusetts, features the world’s first hydroformed tensile exterior façade system sheathing research areas on the upper floors, which plays a vital role in both energy performance and occupant comfort.

The fixed sunshade is geometrically calibrated to lower peak cooling loads by up to 65 per cent. It mixes solar control with material innovation, using 12,000 panels in 14 different shapes fabricated from 1.5-millimetre-thick stainless steel that has the delicacy and lightness of fabric—bridging customisation and mass production.

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Commonplace in the industrial equipment and automotive industries, hydroforming, using pressurised water to shape metal sheets against a single mould, produces stiffer components with less material and at cheaper prices than traditional methods, thereby reducing the embodied energy of the parts.

A year of researching how to apply the hydroforming technique to these components resulted in 90 per cent savings of embodied carbon compared to the folded aluminium shades of Behnisch Architekten’s earlier projects. The building has received LEED Platinum certification and Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal certification in Materials, Beauty, and Equity.

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Project Name
Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex (SEC)

Allston, Massachusetts, USA

Completion Year

Site Area
20,234 square metres

Architecture Firm
Behnisch Architekten, Boston 

Stefan Behnisch; Robert Matthew Noblett

Project Leaders
Christine Napolitano; Erik Hegre

Magdalena Czolnowska; Michelle Lee; Chup Chiu; Michael Cook; Yewon Ji; Heinrich Lipp; Niki Murata; Ryan Otterson; Laetitia Pierlot; Abigail Ransmeier; Jaime Sevilla Lugo; Martin Werminghausen; Piper Ainsley; Chang-Ping Pai; Abhishek Sakpal; Christian Voermann

Brad Feinknopf

PROJECT: Agora Cancer Research Pole

PROJECT: Adidas World of Sports Arena

Read more stories from FuturArc 2Q 2022: New & Re-Emerging Architecture!

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