Barkow Leibinger

Harvard ArtLab . Allston

Barkow Leibinger. Harvard ArtLab . Allston afasia (1)

Barkow Leibinger . photos: © Iwan Baan

Harvard University’s ArtLab, a cross-curriculum space for the arts, is located on the school’s Allston campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Designed to be curated and adapted by its users, the 9,000 square-foot space will be available to students, teachers, visiting artists, and the wider community.


The building, a one-story “pinwheel-like” plan, consists of a series of studios, workshops, and media spaces that surround a common “Hub” space. The Hub, which can be opened and closed by a series of four large sliding partitions, enables performances and exhibitions, cultivating interactivity at the ArtLab’s center. Surrounding spaces provide recording studios, sound-editing stations, and rooms for rehearsal, improvisation, and informal performance.The ArtLab encourages and expands participants’ engagement with interdisciplinary arts-practice research, serving as a collaborative activator for the school and the greater Allston and Cambridge neighborhoods.

The building, which complies to Massachusetts’ high energy efficiency standards and is projected to be net-zero, is constructed of lightweight steel columns and open web steel trusses on a concrete slab on grade. Framing is mechanically fastened, able to be assembled and disassembled easily and efficiently, allowing for the building to be transferred and given a second life when needed. The steel frame is clad in transparent insulated glass and lightweight high-insulating polycarbonate panels. These panels range from transparent totranslucent to opaque, exploiting diffuse natural light and a street-level view by day, emerging as a glowing “lightbox” by night. These materials emphasize the building’s ephemerality while providing a robust and adaptable space for the arts. The roof is covered with photovoltaic panels, generating the power required for the building.


Barkow Leibinger, Berlin

Frank Barkow, Regine Leibinger


Martina Bauer (Associate), Sebastian Awick, Johannes Beck, Jordan Berta, Sophia Hannekum


Artist Studios, Workshop, Video and Sound Studios, Exhibition and Event Space


Allston, MA, USA


9,000 sq ft | 840 qm


Spring 2018 – December 2018


Harvard University

Architect of Record

Sasaki Associates Inc., Watertown, MA

Construction Manager

Lee Kennedy Co. Inc., Quincy, MA

Structural Engineering – Concept

Werner Sobek, New York

Structural Engineering – Executive

RSE Associates Inc., Watertown, MA

MEP/FP Engineers

BR+A, Boston, MA

Landscape Architect

michael boucher landscape architecture, Freeport, ME



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