Deborah Berke Partners
Deborah Berke– an architect, a professor, and the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture is a founder and partner in a New York-based architecture company– Deborah Berke Partners. Her workplace has been in operation for 40 years. Six years ago, she became the first female dean at Yale School of Architecture and joined the Pritzker Prize jury.
Project Intent | Deborah Berke Partners
The Lewis Law Center was built in 1959 as part of the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Deborah Berke Partners was commissioned to design an update that would meet the center’s modern requirements, including more meeting rooms and social spaces. The project included expanding the rectangular form the building, changing the stone-clad facades, and renovating the interiors. The Lewis Law Center was then transformed from a modernist building designed by Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott as a library-stacks building to a center for research with a new entrance, expanded classroom and office space, a new circulation system, and high-performance glazing.
Exteriors of the Building
The additions of zinc and glass go hand in hand with the original limestone, metal, and glass structure, creating a beautiful amalgamation between the old and the new. The original limestone cladding was cleaned up and wrapped in metal panels for the facades. Large expanses of windows let in light and create a welcoming atmosphere. The team redesigned the facility’s layout and carved out openings, such as a central lightwell in the top two levels.
Interior Spaces | Deborah Berke Partners
The 38,000 sq. ft (3,530 sq.m) building served as a library, with book stacks and a limited amount of classroom and administrative space. Inside, library stacks have been removed to make way for interconnected areas that promote collaboration, learning, and co-working. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged by flexible conference and meeting spaces and collaborative areas. At the same time, discrete areas for concentrated work, such as study carrels, private offices, and client consultation rooms, are separated. The project also houses the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society’s cutting-edge study center on law and cyberspace. To make better use of the existing space, the architects added a level above the roof and a box-like volume on the western facade. The formerly opaque stone walls of the building were carefully and selectively removed to enable light in. These multi-level openings allow natural light to enter the building’s center and create new vertical adjacencies.
When compared to a new construction building using standard industry materials, the adaptive reuse of the existing building structure and enclosure results in a 40% decrease in embodied carbon emissions. Overall, the adaptive reuse of the building saved approximately one million tons of embodied carbon, which is equal to the yearly energy use of 120,000 homes.
Overall, the design reused the original building’s bones to great effect, including the concrete foundation, steel-framed structure, and stone envelope.
The renovation of the center was about more than just updating an aging structure. It was about establishing a facility that holistically meets today’s social dynamics in law education.
Interior Detailing | Deborah Berke Partners
Oak wall paneling and terrazzo carpeting are among the interior finishes. Purple, yellow, and orange furniture was inspired by the building’s mid-century origins and helps to enliven the atmosphere. The building’s elegant geometry is highlighted by an exuberant internal color scheme and eclectic furnishings, which highlight the sociability of its spaces.
Jenna McKnight |17 March 2023 Leave a comment (2023) Deborah Berke Partners revamps Modernist Law Centre at Harvard University, Dezeen. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2023/03/17/deborah-berke-partners-law-centre-harvard-university/ (Accessed: March 21, 2023).
Lewis International Law Center Harvard Law School – Architect (no date). Available at: https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/lewis-international-law-center-harvard-law-school_o (Accessed: March 21, 2023).
Deborah Berke (no date) Yale Architecture. Yale School of Architecture. Available at: https://www.architecture.yale.edu/faculty/419-deborah-berke (Accessed: March 21, 2023).
Pagliacolo, E. (2022) “our buildings are filled with joyful moments of Discovery”: A conversation with Deborah Berke, Azure Magazine. Available at: https://www.azuremagazine.com/article/our-buildings-are-filled-with-joyful-moments-of-discovery-a-conversation-with-deborah-berke/ (Accessed: March 21, 2023).
Lewis Law Center, Harvard Law School (2023) Deborah Berke Partners. Available at: https://www.dberke.com/project/lewis-law-center-harvard-law-school/#read-more (Accessed: March 21, 2023).