Located in the heart of the City of Cambridge, the new Lunder Arts Center at Lesley University is a campus crossroads for teaching and making, connecting the College of Art and Design to the surrounding artistic and neighborhood communities. The multi-year design process for the Lunder Arts Center sought to balance the project?s educational, urban planning, and sustainability ambitions with the preservation and restoration of the landmark 1845 North Prospect Church. Bruner/Cott?s creative solution was to link the historic church to a new building, initiating a dialogue between 19th century religious icons and 21st century educational architecture. This progressive approach to adaptive reuse began with the relocation of the church to a more prominent position on the site, fostering an inviting connection to the streetscape. The repositioned church is now home to an art library, administrative offices, and design/illustration studio. The historic half of the building is complemented by a new studio wing, which derives its overall massing and proportions from the church and includes a variety of traditional media studios such as painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics alongside experimental spaces for new media, animation, digital arts, and public galleries.
The two wings of the Lunder Arts Center are connected by a highly detailed enclosed glass commons that recalls the industrial buildings so often inhabited by artists. Unified by a single material palette of glass, terracotta, clapboard, concrete, steel, copper, and granite, the design reflects both the traditional and the experimental, the historic and the new. The program mirrors this link, creating opportunities for interdisciplinary connection across artistic mediums. Furthermore, by engaging with the public through lectures, classes, artist talks, an art library, and exhibitions, the Lunder Arts Center invites valuable interaction between the academic and artistic communities and the entire City of Cambridge.