Gordon McKay Library

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University, has experienced a renaissance of new technology and creativity due to the surge in science and biotech research. SEAS, being in the midst of Cambridge, has not been able to expand as readily as the new demand for lab and related student space has grown. Forced to capture new space within its buildings, SEAS sought to reduce the old Gordon McKay Library by 50%. In doing so, the opportunity arose to house the readily accessible collection in a new condensed space. To accommodate this change, SEAS implemented a building initiative to create new facilities and revitalize existing space. The architecture of these spaces reflected the leading-edge research and forward thinking spirit of the faculty. Douglas Okun & Associates had the good fortune of being part of this growth, having provided architectural services for SEAS since 1990. The mission in these projects was to provide quality design, enabling construction at a reasonable cost. Creative approaches to design provide optimized space at many locations within the SEAS campus, with construction cost at two-thirds of that spent by other departments for comparable facilities.

The newly renovated Gordon McKay Library, located in the freshly designed mezzanine of the south wing of Pierce Hall, is a space awash in light and maintains a contemporary aesthetic. The library consists of a new circulation desk area, computer workstations, stack areas, as well as places for group and individual study. Two new Aedicules have been constructed within the new space to house library staff offices and a student lounge. The walls of the new space are functionally sculpted to allow light from two large skylights to pour into the space. The abundant use of glass and steel for the new structures allows for adjacent public and private activity without losing the feeling of spaciousness and light.

Douglas Okun & Associates is very proud of the finished space. Students and faculty are now able to pursue their academic interests in a light-filled space with comfortable furnishings. The contemporary décor provides a refreshing academic outlet with casual flair.