Harvard University - Laboratory for Integrated Science and Engineering

Integrating Science Communities Inside & Out

Harvard University’s Laboratory for Integrated Science and Engineering (LISE) building houses joint faculty appointments in the department of Physics and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and establishes a campus wide transdisciplinary suite of tightly controlled environments for high performance laboratories capable of characterization, material synthesis, and nanoscale device fabrication. This core of instrumentation forms the research heart of Harvard’s Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS), the primary user group of the below grade portion of the building.

The simplicity of the building’s appearance belies the complexity of the project that locates nearly 140,000 SF of nanoscience research in a large under-courtyard plinth and an elegantly scaled tower that allows campus paths to pass through an open air portico. The 40,000 GSF footprint of below courtyard plinth is 55’ deep and contains three levels housing: a characterization suite and ultra low-vibration laboratories; a 10,000 SF clean room in a bay and chase arrangement; high bay laboratories and two suites for material synthesis; and a fan deck level for the clean room’s recirculating air handlers and HEPA filtration.

The design approach encourages collaboration by connecting scientists in a natural and interactive way. The portico is composed of three curvilinear forms, each of which contains vertical connectivity for elevators, stairs and mechanical infrastructure. The curved forms reflect the primary paths connecting campus destinations. The largest of the forms contains a café and informal seating area that provides a focus for scientific interaction. The café is strategically sited to express LISE’s connection to five important science and engineering buildings; McKay, Pierce, Cruft, Lyman, and Jefferson Halls. Above the portico, the building continues to rise upward, tower-like, with one floor of administrative and seminar space and four floors of research laboratories.

One of LISE’s primary objectives is to provide ultra quiet environments for scientific instruments and experiments. Throughout the building, areas were allocated as shell space for Individual Research Laboratories (IRLs) that provide a range of specialized high performance spaces to accommodate current professors and attract future recruits from around the world. The shell spaces includes low vibration, multi-story high bay, deep pit, and advanced optics capabilities. They house customized experimental laboratories with stringent criteria for electromagnetic / RF interference, temperature and humidity controls, vibration isolation, and noise control.


Cambridge, MA

Building Type

Research Labs, Conference, Office, Café



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