James Carpenter Design Associates - Schwartz Pavilion, a focal point for student engagement and activity
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Schwartz Pavilion, a focal point for student engagement and activity

James Carpenter Design Associates

Education  /  Completed
James Carpenter Design Associates
The Schwartz Pavilion is a contemporary structure located at the heart of the Harvard Business School’s expanding campus. It is designed to be a focal point for student engagement and activity within the newly renovated campus commons. The siting of the pavilion in the commons along the primary circulation routes of the commons paths and Kresge Way encourages participation for both informal and structured social exchanges, study and recreation. Strategically placed within Reed Hilderbrand’s landscape design, JCDA’s pavilion is configured with two overlapping canopies of different heights that link to the scale of the open lawn of the commons and the surrounding building context to define the two primary covered spaces of engagement. Light responsive materials of the canopy and vertical partitions provide privacy, delineate space, and display activity and occupancy.

The pavilion canopy and partition walls are arranged to optimize comfort with the seasonal changes of wind and sun light in the commons site. Providing a psychological awareness of the natural world, the glass canopy is a receiving surface for the activity of the tree canopy and sky, while transmitting light and shadows into the pavilion. Operable sliding and folding glass doors can be deployed to alter the scale of event spaces, create more enclosure, and support the use of the pavilion in the shoulder seasons. Summer and winter sun exposure and wind directions are taken into account in the pavilion orientation for passive cooling and heating and to support HBS’ goals for sustainability.

Winning a competition for the project, JCDA proposed working closely with Architecture Operations D.P.C. (ArcOps) during all phases of work in order to bring the project to fruition. JCDA and ArcOps studied Reed Hilderbrand’s planning principles for expanding the HBS campus and support the desire to both preserve and respond to the clarity of landscape and building plan while capturing the singular character of the HBS community and the unique qualities of the site and its environment. The team sought to integrate and mesh landscape, engineering, architecture and art in order to create a singularly defined place that heightens the user’s experience of gathering and offers a collective appreciation of site and community.

For Concept Design, the team understood the HBS campus to be defined for the most part by human interventions in the form of objects: buildings, vehicular and pedestrian circulation and various planned landscapes. Reed Hilderbrand’s planning study, wisely proposed shifting the focus from those objects to the critical fluid spaces between them. These interstitial spaces provide access to larger scale and more distant environmental influences such as the Charles River while also having the potential to connect each individual to the Business School community through a more enduring definition of the Commons as not just a place but ITS place. The team used drawings, models and presentations and meetings with the University facilities and maintenance to more clearly define the occupant’s experience of, and identification with, the site's qualities of light, temperature, tactility and visual dynamic. This bundle of environmental traits were demonstrated to be subject to the diurnal and seasonal cycles of the site’s microclimate. While art/nature vectors inflected this design approach, the team was equally focused upon how the successful architectural response to a complex matrix of environmental factors could serve to extend not just the times of day when individuals are naturally attracted to the Commons but expand the functionality and occupation of the Commons throughout the year.

Through Schematic Design the team developed a coherent language of spatial responses and material elements, applied variably and selectively as determined by site visits and climate studies. This language was then applied to the closed, sheltered or exposed spaces that create variable states of thermal comfort as the climate and the student’s tolerance allows - from the protection from or welcoming of prevailing winds, to the provision of shade that offers shelter in intense periods of solar exposure or glazed apertures that offer welcome solar heat gains in periods of intense cold. Design Development refined the layout, canopies and structural details, developing the envelope and canopies tested in a full-scale partial mock-up.

The resulting pavilion is the meeting place for students, staff and faculty and an informal place for the dean to connect with students. The pavilion is used to introduce dignitaries to the school, for executives in the business education program to study and alumni to gather in the summer. As the campus expands to the south, the completed pavilion has become the catalyst anchoring the commons, transforming what was mostly a circulation space near the edge of campus into the center of the school.


 Harvard Business School
 465 mq
 Architecture Operations DPC
 Design: James Carpenter Design Associates Inc. James Carpenter, Principal Richard Kress, Design Director Katharine McClellan, Senior Designer/Project Manager Xavier Schirlin, Designer Garrett Ricciardi, Designer / Architect: Architecture Operations D.P.C. James Carpenter, Design Principal Reid Freeman, Managing Principal / Landscape Architect: Reed Hilderbrand
 Lighting: Dot Dash / Engineer: Schlaich Bergermann Partner / MEP: R.G. Vanderweil Engineer / Operable Walls Architect: REID Architecture
 James Ewing / JCDA / Reed Hilderbrand


James Carpenter has worked at the intersection of architecture, fine art, and engineering for 45 years, advancing a distinctive vision based on the use of natural light as the foundational element of the built environment. Originally studying architecture before concentrating on the fine arts, Carpenter founded the cross-disciplinary design firm James Carpenter Design Associates in 1979 to support the application of these aesthetic principles to the constructed environment. Carpenter’s work is driven by a deep awareness of materiality and craft.

Carpenter has been recognized with numerous national and international awards, including an Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Smithsonian National Environment Design Award. He holds a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and was a Loeb Fellow of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.


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