KVA's Tozzer Anthropology Building at Harvard University has just won the 2016 Hobson Award, given by the AIA for the best new architecture project. As Modern-era university campus buildings are aging around the world, they can't meet contemporary needs for public access, sustainable design and energy efficient envelopes. Yet if universities tear these buildings down; the embodied energy and carbon investment of these constructions are wasted. The Tozzer Anthropology Building takes a bold approach to this problem, by creating a new public identity and program for Tozzer Library, (1971) while re-using the original building's foundation, campus infrastructure connections, and its steel and concrete structure.
The design features a digital brick façade that stacks and corbels. Each brick unit is linked by design to the global geometry of the entry pavilion, creating a 3D brick envelope that is derived from this specific massing form. Inside, the new anthropology curriculum is supported by a hands-on artefacts library and a twisting central light well clad in birch wood panels that reflect day light and absorb sound. Offices, classrooms and informal collaboration places ring this central "living space", which brings daylight into the building, and creates dynamic visual relationships between floor levels.