Green's the New Color at Harvard and Yale

September 24, 2007

by Alec Appelbaum

A pledge by Harvard University to cap carbon emissions from a new cluster of science buildings, heralded last week, coincided with a bit of green news from the second-oldest Ivy. Yale University announced that Foster + Partners is designing a LEED-certified building to triple the size of its business school. 

Harvard’s news comes as part of its six-year-old Green Campus Initiative, which has guided Cooper, Robertson & Partners’ plans for a 341-acre expansion campus into Allston, near its historic home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The university is pledged last week that its new Allston Science Complex will emit no more than half the greenhouse gases of similar education and research facilities. It has retained Behnisch Architekten, based in Stuttgart, Germany, to design four buildings totaling 589,000 square feet. Among other green features, the project will include cogeneration and micro-grid distribution of power, geothermal wells, and solar chimneys. Behnisch, which recently opened an office in Boston called Behnisch Studio East, will also study the feasibility of adding windmills, a geothermal loop, and capturing potential heating energy from the sewage system. 

For anyone keeping score, Harvard has an edge in its green rivalry, of sorts, against Yale: Behnisch will design to a LEED gold standard, while Foster has committed only to basic LEED certification. The London-based firm was tapped to design a 230,000-square-foot building for Yale’s School of Management. Tripling the school’s footprint, the building will allow it to graduate classes of up to 300 MBA students a year, compared to the 180 it currently averages. 

The school’s current home consists of large classrooms and dank study rooms in a Modernist box, a courtyard behind that building, and faculty offices and makeshift study space in two Victorian-era houses a block away. Foster’s 4.25-acre site, just east of the current complex, will open onto Whitney Avenue, where many students live and shop. 

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Yale is still refining program elements, but it hopes the glassy new building will give its 29-year-old business school a fresh identity, helping it enter the ranks of top MBA programs nationwide. “Contrary to national trends, our application numbers were up 20 percent two years ago, and another 25 percent last year,” says Yale School of Management dean Joel Podolny. “A new campus will afford the opportunity to tailor classroom and breakout spaces to the active learning that is now central to how we teach.” 


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