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Smith Campus Center

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Smith Campus Center

Smith Campus Center
Former names Holyoke Center
General information
Architectural style Brutalist
Address 1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Country USA
Construction started 1960
Completed 1966
Owner Harvard University
Technical details
Floor count 10
Floor area 360,000 sq ft (33,000 m2)
Design and construction
Architect José Luis Sert
Architecture firm Sert, Jackson and Gourley[1]

Harvard University's Smith Campus Center (formerly Holyoke Center) is a Brutalist administrative and service building occupying the block bounded by Massachusetts Avenue, Dunster Street, Holyoke Street, and Mount Auburn Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, directly opposite the Wadsworth Gate to Harvard Yard.[1] It houses administrative offices, an infirmary of the University Health Services, and a retail/restaurant arcade.[1]

Harvard's first highrise, it has been called a "gray elephant" for its concrete facades.[2][3]


Primarily designed by José Luis Sert (then dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design) and completed in 1966, the Smith Campus Center is an H-shaped ten-story building—​with low-rise portions, including an underground parking garage, having a larger footprint—​of 360,000 square feet (33,000 m2).

After the first phase of construction in 1963, the Harvard Crimson cited a local joke: "The one nice feature about Holyoke Center is that it's the one place in Cambridge from which you can't see Holyoke Center."[4] Within a few years the building's novel design and technical features began to present numerous difficulties, which a Harvard official likened to "a five-car accident at an intersection. You just can't tell what caused it."[5] These included crumbling of exterior structural concrete and an inefficient three-pipe heating and cooling system.[5]

Renaming and planned renovation

Originally known as Holyoke Center, in 2013 it was renamed the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center. It is scheduled to undergo a "major transformation" starting in 2016, in order to provide "large, flexible indoor gathering spaces

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