Just outside the Science Center, waves of shade cascade across the plaza, providing respite from the summer sun — the product of a recently installed canopy dubbed Wavelength that combines form and function to create a practical and visually striking work of art.
Stretching more than 130 feet along the west side of the Science Center Plaza, hundreds of red, flag-like banners hang from wires, gently swaying. Underneath, crimson Adirondack chairs, decks, and café tables let visitors enjoy the outdoors on the sunniest of days. A large synthetic lawn (complete with giant chess set and Ping-Pong table) completes this urban oasis.
“One of our objectives is to make the plaza a destination for the Harvard community 365 days a year,” said Julie Crites, director for Common Spaces. “This shade canopy will greatly enhance the usability and overall enjoyment of the space in the warmer months.”
The canopy, designed by Interboro Partners, is the result of a collaboration among Harvard Common Spaces, Harvard Planning Office, and Project for Public Spaces.
A key design parameter was that the structure complement, and not interfere with, programs and events. “We tried to design something that was almost column-free, with a very wide span,” said Daniel D’Oca, associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and a co-founder of Interboro Partners. “That was primarily driven by the goal of making something beautiful and memorable without it being in the way of the many wonderful activities happening on the ground.”