Project Creates New Space for Study of Art and Design in Cambridge’s Porter Square
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Bruner/Cott & Associates, a design firm with emphasis on large institutional projects and urban development, announces that construction is underway on Lesley University’s Lunder Arts Center in Porter Square, Cambridge. The 70,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-designed project marks a bold new chapter in the history of the university’s College of Art and Design, the new name of the century-old Art Institute of Boston.
The ambitious project enables Lesley University to relocate the College of Art and Design from its Kenmore Square site in Boston to a unified campus that stretches from the edge of Harvard Square into the heart of Porter Square. The locus of the project, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Roseland Street, reinforces Lesley’s mission of uniting the arts across the university as well as its commitment to the City of Cambridge. The project is a keystone initiative in the rapidly developing Porter Square Arts District.
Bruner/Cott’s design, selected through an invited competition, creates a compelling dialogue between nineteenth- and twenty-first century architecture. The 1845 Old Cambridge Baptist Church, which later became the North Prospect Congregational Church, is one of seven surviving pre-Civil War churches in the city and the best preserved in the Greek Revival style. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church was moved once from Harvard Square to Porter Square in 1867, and will be moved again to a more visually prominent location on the arts center site. The church exterior will be restored to its original appearance, and its interior will be renovated to house the school’s art library and design studios.
Complementing this facility is a new four-story terra cotta and glass building for art galleries and studio and art-making spaces that will occupy the former church site. The scale and detail of the church inform the new building, and its terra cotta detailing harmonizes with neighborhood brick and clapboard. The two buildings are linked via a three-story glass entry commons. The complex will also serve the wider community, offering expanded public events including exhibitions, lectures, conferences, and symposia.
The Lunder Arts Center bears the surname of philanthropists Peter and Paula Lunder (Lesley Class of 1959), whose transformational commitment to the university came through a matching gift challenge in fall 2012.
“The Lunder Arts Center is the high-water mark in a period of strategic expansion at Lesley,” says university President Dr. Joseph B. Moore. “With Bruner/Cott’s vision, the Center helps Lesley to continue to give our students an educational experience of the highest quality, support the talents of our faculty, and deepen our relationships with our neighbors and alumni around the arts.”
“Our firm has long-term experience in designing and building for academia and the arts, often merging historic architecture with new construction,” says Principal-in-Charge Simeon Bruner. “This project, representing a crossroads for the area’s academic, artistic, and area communities, will truly demonstrate how the arts can transform a neighborhood.”
About Bruner Cott
Recipients of the AIA National Honor Award for Design, Bruner/Cott & Associates has a forty-year legacy of creating sustainable, affordable, and community-focused spaces in the academic, cultural, and mixed-use sectors. A pioneer in adaptive reuse, the firm is a leader in restoring and reimagining venerable buildings in addition to new construction. Highly regarded for its comprehensive campus initiatives, the firm’s work includes the Blackstone Offices at Harvard University; the Sloan School of Management at MIT; Bartlett Commons at the University of Chicago, and the Commons Center at Vanderbilt University. Other significant projects include MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA); 45 Province Street, a mixed-use tower in Boston; and the revival of the Waltham Watch Factory (Waltham, MA) for office, residential and commercial use. For more information, visit www.brunercott.com .
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