Harvard Ceramics

Submitted by The Galante Architecture Studio

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Client: Harvard University

Location: Boston, MA, United States

Completion date: 2013

Project Team

Architect

Theodore Galante

The Galante Architecture Studio

Client

Harvard University

Overview

This 25,000 ft2 former single story warehouse was surgically opened to enliven street front. Program elements include Harvard’s Ceramic Studio and the Educational Portal (community mentoring and lecture space). The studio houses artists in residence; university students, full kiln facilities, and public art gallery. Ed Portal houses quiet classroom mentoring spaces, art and science facilities, reading areas, and flexible lecture/reparatory theater space, complete with stage. Terra cotta and core ten reflect the profession of the buildings occupants. The glass wall invites full view into performance spaces, lectures and art gallery.

Goals

In order to engage the neighborhood, the focus was to design a new ceramics studio and gallery open to the street. The transparent façade offers a glimpse into the main studio and gallery. One is framed by terra cotta panels, the other by Cor Ten steel. Materials were selected to reflect inhabitants, but also to trace the building's life in time, (ref: On Weathering). These building materials undergo what is known in physics as a Phase Change. Objects made in a ceramics studio are similarly transformed; from liquid, to solid, via a gas producing process. Once fired, ceramic objects are solidified records of this phase change; their surfaces permanently defined by the process. Materials selected for the façade reflects similar qualities. Cor Ten will patina over time, Terra Cotta panels hold similar records of process, but less imperfect than the handmade object. The scale and pattern of each was chosen to reflect the art of the hand. Each is a running bond, on scale with the overall architectural element to clearly be one amongst many. The glass façade is followed on by subsequent layers of glazing, defining each space within. A skylight punctured, fills the space with essential diffuse light.

Process

Working together with the artists who direct and use the space, these elements provide space for thought, making, firing, and exhibit their works. The building is connected to mass transit bus lines. Sustainable features include high albedo white roof over R-30 insulation, South facing glazing in kiln room and studios to allow natural daylight and views, skylights, and internal windows from room deep inside floor plate, to allow daylight and views deep within the space, replacing hardscape with green space as well as porous paving.

Additional Information

The kiln room is an anchor, set along the rear façade for long duration firings. Its two overhead doors light the room with full southern exposure. At night, they open to let cool air fill the space or allow outdoor firings. Together, these elements provide space for artists to think, make, fire, and exhibit their works.