The new Higgins Hall Center Section is an urban insertion which draws from the sections of the two adjacent
historic landmarked buildings. Floor plates of the north and south wings do not align. By drawing this
misalignment into the new glass section to meet at the center a “dissonant zone” is created which marks the new
entry to the school.
The two masonry buildings together with the new glass insertion form an “H” in plan. New courts facing east and
west are paved in the reused red brick which was salvaged following the fire that took place in 1996. The east
facing court overlooks the green yards of the inner block, while the west court is shaped as the main front on St.
Rising from this red brick plinth, the glass center is supported on six pre-cast concrete columns. Fabricated in
Canada the thick steel beams and columns form stone-like bones, while the “U” shaped structural glass planks
with translucent white insulation form a thick glowing skin. The thick skin is interrupted by clear glass at the
dissonant zone, which is aligned with the internal ramps, turning the circulation north and south for views out.
The misalignment in floors can be seen in the dissonant zone which varies increasingly as it moves vertically in
section: on the first floors, the misalignment is ½ inch; on the second floors it is 1 foot 8 inches, on the third floors
it is 4 feet 9 inches, and on the fourth floors it is 6 feet seven inches. Thus, the dissonance moves from the detail
thickness of a finger to human scale. Rebuilding the center allowed a new arrangement of the School of
Architecture under the direction of Dean Thomas Hanrahan. For the first time the north and south wings are
functionally connected, and the School of Architecture gained a single, clearly-oriented entrance and central
entrance court that becomes a meeting point to the neighborhood.
The new functional spaces include: new design studio spaces, classrooms and media office, the Leo Kuhn
entrance/reception area, a new auditorium with overflow seating for digital projection, and the new Robert H.
Siegel Architecture Gallery.
Program: wing for an architecture school containing: lobby, gallery, studios,
auditorium, digital resource center, review room, gallery terrace,