Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd.


Transformed re-use. A central light well organizes new smart classrooms, offices, library collections and collegial spaces.

Anthropologists at work in the Harvard Anthropology Complex

The original 1971 Tozzer Anthropology Building. This and other modernist era university buildings across America are aging.

KVA’s design transforms the public presence and programs of the library, re-using the existing building’s foundation, campus infrastructure connections, and steel and concrete structure.

A burnt red brick envelop unifies and transforms a 1971 ‘wing’ into an independent Anthropology Building with a distinctive new public entry.

The new massing increases usable SF by 28% with a copper roof volume, which rotates to capture daylight and strengthens a reading of the building as a pavilion in the Peabody Courtyard.

A detailed view of the new brick façade. Using standard brick veneer construction, the design invents a digital corbelled brick detail at the new entry that is directly tied to the building massing geometry.

The inclined surfaces of the wall are simply the result of the stepping, angled layout of the wall, with each successive course shifted from the course below.

The Entry Lobby, with a Mayan Stele on display, connects Divinity Ave. to the Peabody Museum, the museum courtyard, the Anthropology Library, and upper-level offices.

Axonometric and plan details of the Entry Pavilion.

The first-floor public entry to the Anthropology Library

Left – North/South section through the entry lobby and light well. Right – A view of the atrium from a fourth-floor seminar room.

The atrium brings daylight deep into the building and opens up multi-floor views.

The central atrium illuminates the corridors and public spaces. It creates visual relationships between floor levels, provides acoustic treatment and circulates tempered air in an innovative energy-saving HVAC system.

The atrium millwork is patterned after the texture of birch bark.

View of Tozzer Anthropology Building from the courtyard at dusk.

Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd.
10 Farnham St

Tozzer Anthropology Building

KVA’s design for Harvard University’s Tozzer Anthropology Building transforms the public presence and programs of the 1971 Tozzer Library. The design challenge was to expand a 21st century Anthropology curriculum while re-using the existing 1971 building footprint, Campus infrastructure connections, and steel and concrete structural system. The massing strategy adds two new stories under a large copper roof volume, which rotates to capture daylight for a large internal light well around which the internal programs revolve. The copper roof form and its subtle rotation strengthen a more independent reading of the Tozzer Anthropology building as a pavilion in the Peabody Courtyard. The new design provides a public entry on Divinity Avenue, public access from the new lobby to the Peabody Courtyard and a direct link to the Peabody Museum Collections and Department of Archeology.

The 1971 three-story brick envelope could not be re-used due to mold and vapor barrier problems in the original construction. The design invents a digitally corbelled brick detail at the new entry that is directly linked with the overall geometry of the building massing, with each brick course shifted from the course below in parallel with the building structure. Using a standard contemporary brick veneer construction, the new design expresses a contemporary brick materiality that resonates with the 19th century brick details of the Peabody campus context.

Working with University and Anthropology Faculty, Staff and Librarians, the KVA design team developed smart classrooms, collegial spaces, faculty offices and a renewed Anthropology Library to house the Tozzer anthropology collections. The new program is organized around a central light well clad in birch wood. Offices, classrooms and informal gathering places ring this “living space”, which brings daylight into the building, creates visual relationships between floor levels, and provides acoustic treatment. The light well circulates tempered air as part of an innovative energy-saving ventilation system. The Tozzer Anthropology building opens in Summer 2014 and has received LEED Gold certification.


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Date: 2014
Status: Construction 2012 - 2014
Client: Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, MA

Design Team:

Frano Violich, FAIA; Managing Principal
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA; Principal Consulting on Design
Greg Burchard, AIA, LEED AP; Project Architect
J. Seth Hoffman, LEED AP: Project Manager
Justin Hui, Jungmin Nam, Charles Garcia, Daniel Sullivan, Alda Black, Alex Shelly, Blair Cranston, Ben Widger, Kyle Altman

Architect: Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd.
Structural Engineer: Lemessurier Consultants
MEP & Envelope: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, PC
Civil Engineer: Green International Affiliates Inc.
Landscape Architect: Richard Burk Associates, Inc.
Lighting Designer: Tillotson Design Associates
Code Consultant: Hughes Associates Inc.
Acoustic Consultant: Cavanaugh Tocci Associates
Photographer: John Horner