WSP Flack + Kurtz bring the new wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston to life
The new wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has been described as Boston's first great public building of the 21st century. Established at its current location for over 100 years, the MFA contains over 450,000 works of art, one of the most comprehensive collections in the US. The fifth most-visited museum in the country, the MFA takes its place as an icon in the cultural life of Boston. The Art of the Americas Wing, and the Shapiro Family Courtyard were designed by Foster + Partners (CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares, Inc., executive architects) opening in November 2010.
The Courtyard is a 10,000sf, 62 foot high, glass-enclosed space serving as visitor centre, dining area and function hall. The design challenge was to ensure, through sustainable solutions, that the glass environment would be a comfortable setting for many differing needs, tolerating Boston's extreme weather conditions. Radiant floor cooling coupled with mass air displacement provides a comfortable environment in the summer months. Radiant floor heating with vertical warm air up the sides of the glass "box" addresses the losses of the glass wall in the extreme winter months for comfort and condensation management. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis was a key tool to predict hot/cold spots, prevent condensation, and help design environmental systems.
The MEP systems are complex, due to the close temperature and humidity tolerances they are tasked to maintain. The Building Management Systems (BMS) includes remote monitoring and access to make necessary adjustments and provide space and equipment performance trending. The latter is a valuable tool to predict future performances and energy conservation.
The engineering systems were designed with resiliency in mind to protect the galleries' valuable contents. Prior to final equipment selection, the systems were modeled using historical weather data and programming information. This data was the foundation for arriving at a system sizing and equipment matrix to ensure the reliability of the mechanical systems in maintaining the close environmental conditions of the galleries.