Let in the light

Harvard Art Museums Expansion, Cambridge ,Massachusetts, Daylighting Arup, Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop

The renovation's key feature is the 'light machine', a glass skylight system for the top two floors of the facility housing a conservation lab and study centre. The angled, glazed roof is a UV-mitigating, multi-layer, high-colour-rendering glazing system comprising a skylight and an additional exterior glass shingle system that protects an exterior light-reducing shade.

Photo: Harvard: Nic Lehoux
Photo: Harvard: Nic Lehoux

As daylight is preferred for the highly detailed art-conservation work performed in the facility, the skylight system provides enough protection and flexibility to safeguard sensitive art and achieve optimal lighting conditions.

An additional interior diffusing shade can be deployed with or without the light-reducing shade, allowing conservators to choose the amount of daylight and whether that light is directional or diffuse.

Photo: Harvard: Nic Lehoux
Photo: Harvard: Nic Lehoux

A custom-designed wireless web-based lighting control system also allows conservators to adjust electric lighting and daylighting to suit their tasks. The system replaces wall switches in the space and is independent of platform and devices so that users can access it with tablets and laptops via a unified interface.

The glass-roof system allows light into a central courtyard space reaching down five storeys. The tempered daylight filters into perimeter workspaces and galleries, providing a transition space between the brightly illuminated courtyard and interior galleries with lower light levels.

Broad Museum, Daylighting Arup, Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Photo: Arup
Photo: Arup

Drawing natural light into The Broad in a way that protects the art was central to Diller Scofidio + Renfro's design.

The building's architecture is actually defined by the finely honed geometry of the solar path in Los Angeles.

Photo: Arup
Photo: Arup

The entire structure, including the carefully calibrated veil and skylights serve as a light-filtration device, bringing controlled natural light into the galleries.

The skylights include blackout shades, enabling lower light conditions for all or portions of the third floor, giving the museum maximum flexibility to exhibit any type of artworks.

Photo: Arup
Photo: Arup

This passive daylighting approach means that daylight levels in the galleries will vary with the season, time of day and weather, altering the ambience of gallery interiors for visitors on different occasions.

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