Sealing the Envelope

July 11, 2013
The building envelope–testing structure, located in the Harvard Art Museums art study center, Floor 4. Photos: Zak Jensen.

The temporary shack-like structure standing against an outside wall in the Harvard Art Museums’ art study center is not a rough cut of a future study carrel for students, although it is a special kind of study space. It’s where architects, consultants, construction workers, and our facilities management team assess the building’s “envelope”—the barrier between its interior and exterior environments. For testing purposes, this specially designed enclosure is filled with theatrical smoke. If any of it escapes outside, the team can make adjustments that ensure the building is airtight.

We’re conducting similar tests throughout the museums, so that when you visit us in fall 2014, you’ll experience an environment where the conditioned air remains inside the structure, keeping our energy use down and you comfortable while we create the right climate for collections preservation.

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