Facing a shortage of faculty, staff, and event parking, Harvard University commissioned Arrowstreet to design a new underground garage for more than 700 cars. The only land available for the project was in a residential neighborhood, and the site contained historic buildings. Public interest was high, including that of the Cambridge Historical Commission. A “top down” construction system was selected because the dust and noise from excavation taking place below grade would have less impact than open pit excavation. This minimized environmental impacts on nearby residents.

The quality of each visitor’s arrival is important to the university, so Arrowstreet developed a wayfinding program to improve user experience.  The opportunity to showcase Harvard’s extensive museum collections emerged as a way to complement a more standard, color-coding approach to wayfinding. After collaborating with curators to select representative artwork, Arrowstreet created vibrantly colored graphic interpretations of the art for wrapping structural columns, elevator lobbies, and accent walls. Each of the four glass-walled elevator lobbies incorporates imagery from one of Harvard’s museums.  The award-winning solution (the first parking garage to ever win an interior design award from the Boston Society of Architects) offers several layers of wayfinding — level designation, color, and art — to help users navigate the facility and remember where they parked.

Project Details


Cambridge, MA


Harvard University


325,000 SF


Graphics  & Infrastructure





Society for Experiential Graphic Design

2006 Merit Award

Society for Experiential Graphic Design

2006 Merit Award

Boston Society of Architects (co-sponsored by IIDA and ASID)

Interior Architecture Interior Design Award

Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

Design Awards Competition: Merit Award

Society for Environmental Graphic Design

Merit Award

Photos by Richard Mandelkorn Photography