Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard University
Houghton Library

Our renovation of Houghton Library, Harvard University’s principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, pairs heritage spaces with new design to create an inclusive setting that supports diverse approaches to research, learning, and teaching. 

The redesigned exterior entrance forecourt creates a new presence for the Library in Harvard Yard and provides universal access for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Inside, modifications to the oval lobby, unaltered since the building’s completion in 1942, create a rotating display setting for Library collections. Reconceived wayfinding and building security, a relocated and expanded cloakroom with lockers, and a new elevator connecting all public levels, enhance the visitor experience. 

The reading room is reconfigured and updated to support both individual and collaborative research. Changes include a consultation room for reader check-in and an adjacent group study room, visually connected to each other and to the reading room with full-height glass partitions. New finishes, improved lighting, and custom-designed tables make research comfortable and accessible for all. 

Harvard University
Project Size
Renovation | 5,000 GSF
Library, Exhibition, Visitor Services
Preservation Massachusetts Paul & Niki Tsongas Award
The renewed reading room is separated from registration and collaborative workspace by full-height glass partitions. This division allows for different types of user engagement with the collections, while allowing library staff to oversee reading room operations.
Ann Beha Architects, now Annum Architects
Project Team
Thomas M Hotaling AIA; Ann M. Beha FAIA; Jonathan Ross AIA; Ian Miller AIA; Katherine Ernst; Stacey Wilson (ABA/Annum); R. W. Sullivan (MEP); LeMessurier Consultants, Inc. (Structural); Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting (Lighting Design); Acentech (Acoustics); IKD (Exhibit Design/Signage/Graphics; Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (Landscape Architect); Hastings Consulting Inc. (Code Consultant); Kalin Associates Inc. (Specifications); Existing Conditions Survey, Inc. (Building Documentation); Consigli Construction Company (Construction Management); Peter Vanderwarker (Photographer)