TenBerke blends new and old at Harvard’s Lewis International Law Center

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In spring 2022, Harvard University welcomed students into the newly renovated Lewis International Law Center, located on the northern stretches of the Cambridge campus, a stone’s throw from the Cambridge Common. The 50,500-square-foot project was led by New York–based firm TenBerke (formerly Deborah Berke Partners), whose expertise in adaptive reuse has helped it transform the midcentury structure into a learning center that emphasizes social interchange, shared teaching, and flexible office spaces. 

The original building dates from 1957 and was designed by Shepley, Bulfinch, and Abbott as an annex of the existing law library’s stacks, accompanied by a reading room and independent circulation desk. Its high-modernist design, executed with concrete, stone, and a curtain wall, ultimately proved outmoded for contemporary pedagogical demands. The renovation keeps the original library functions in place while adding an array of conference and meeting rooms, private offices, study carrels, reconfigurable classrooms, and client consultation rooms. 

exploded axonometric showing circulation in an academic building
As seen in the circulation depicted in the exploded axonometric, the project “created a new front door and stitched pathways back into the campus precinct,” Hiremath said. (Courtesy TenBerke)