Harvard University, Tozzer Anthropology Building

Cambridge, MA, USA

With its original structure dating back to 1971, Harvard University’s new Tozzer Anthropology Building has seen the transformation of an existing library building to create a contemporary, energy efficient education space.

As part of the renovations, portions of the basement, first floor, and second floor have been refurbished, and a third and fourth floor have been incorporated to house offices and mechanical spaces. The building also provides access to the adjacent museum complex.

The reimagining of the space unites the University’s Anthropology Department, which was previously located in two separate buildings, creating more space for social interaction and shared learning.


A key challenge for the Buro Happold design team was to consider both the need to improve environmental and thermal performance while also retaining elements of the original structure. The resulting design sees the reuse of the existing building’s foundations and steel and concrete structure combined with the installation of a high performance facade and roof.

The redesigned Anthropology Library contains the Tozzer collections while also providing quiet study spaces and informal gathering areas, all lit by the central light well. Image: John Horner


With the original facade unusable due to poor thermal performance, the project team re-clad the structure using a standard brick veneer designed with bespoke 3D modeling software. The facade’s inclined surfaces are created by the stepped and angled layout of the bricks, resulting in a strong, simple visual presence despite its complex geometry. Energy efficiency was a priority for the University, so our team incorporated a number of sustainable features into the facade and roof addition. The facade includes box windows that fill the space with natural light, while the highly insulated copper roof captures daylight for a large internal light well. Engineering also provided waterproofing design services to create a cohesive roof enclosure.

The Tozzer Building’s bespoke brick facade was designed using 3D modeling software to achieve the stepped and angled layout of the bricks. Image: John Horner


The work to renovate and expand the capacity in the Tozzer building provides an additional 29% of usable space, including two new floors located in the upper levels of the building. Now LEED Gold certified, our work has reduced energy consumption by 30%, delivering an outstanding space for learning with a sustainable future.

A light well fills the internal space with daylight, creating naturally lit rooms ideal for studying. Image: John Horner

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