The new Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) at Harvard University’s expanding Allston campus is a 544,000 SF, multi-use facility that was designed to accommodate the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and to encourage cross-disciplinary research in a variety of fields including computer science, data science, electrical and mechanical engineering, and materials science. The highly-efficient building, which is LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified*, features three separate wings, linked by interstitial, multi-story atria.

Acentech’s team provided acoustics and vibration consulting for this facility, beginning work in 2015 during its schematic design phase. Our scope of work included establishing acoustical criteria for all occupied spaces, from classrooms of various sizes, to labs, maker spaces, meeting rooms and the multi-story atria, and advising the team on ways to meet these criteria. We also created a digital 3DListening® model that enabled the architects and Harvard stakeholders to hear the expected acoustical conditions in critical spaces while the project was still in design. We overcame the acoustical challenges, particularly those presented by the geometry and programming of spaces near the atria, and helped guide the design team to achieve optimal sound conditions for different occupant scenarios, allowing the team to make responsive and cost-effective decisions prior to the start of construction.

Our vibration experts reviewed the initial designs, providing guidance on favorable layouts to minimize the risk of vibration disturbances. We recommended mitigation strategies for protecting vibration-sensitive spaces and equipment, including an electron microscope suite and vibration-sensitive lab environments and equipment utilized by SEAS researchers throughout the building’s upper floors. Acentech also advised on approaches to mitigate noise and vibration stemming from HVAC and other mechanical equipment, and provided general advice on foreseeable community noise issues in relation to local noise limits.

The SEC is a striking new addition to Harvard’s expanding Allston campus, leading the way in both academic research, and architectural sustainability for many years to come.

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