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Straus Center for Conservation
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1996
11,000 Square Feet

Description: Harvard's Conservation Department is the oldest fine arts conservation treatment, research, and training facility in the United States. Renovation was imperative for the safety of the staff and collections; expansion was necessary to allow the conservators' advances in research and teaching to be realized

The challenge of accommodating the specialized needs of each conservation specialty while maintaining interdisciplinary exchange was addressed by a free plan where architectonic elements define distinct areas without separating them. A rhythmic sequence of skylights floods and unifies the Center with north light.

The dedicated mechanical system (discreetly located in a penthouse) maintains steady temperature and humidity despite intermittent use of spray booths, fume hoods, and fume extractors. A continuous air/vapor barrier and specially designed windows and skylights successfully prohibit the formation of dangerous condensation even on the most frigid nights.

The materials and equipment are integrated with the processes and functions of the treatment and research work. Each element is assessed in terms of its special use, relation to the human body and to the room, to ensure fluid, safe motion.

Museum website: Straus Center for Conservation

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