Harvard’s architects say: How about us?

The Boston Globe is online at http://boston.com/, and the article “Harvard’s architects say: How about us?” can be bought from the online archives for $2.95. I have put selected portions of the article below.

By Alex Beam, Globe Columnist, December 18, 2003

The people who read the Harvard tea leaves — let’s call them Harvardologists — duly noted the absence of an architect from the World’s Greatest Graduate School of Design on the newly formed task forces president Larry Summers has appointed to map out Harvard’s march across the river into Allston.

Most notably there is no Harvard architect on the committee assigned to “envision the ways in which Harvard’s Allston planning can contribute to a lively residential urban community.” This group is also supposed to “explore options for housing graduate students and others.”

It is as if they were building a new chapel and didn’t put someone from the religion department on the planning committee,” my informant comments.

The word on the street is that Summers has had more than his fill of GSD architecture mavens, who greeted the newly arrived president with Rem Koolhaas’s bizarre “Moses Scheme” for rechanneling the Charles River near Harvard. More recently the GSD championed the Ugliest Building Ever Built, the near-universally reviled 1 Western Avenue, a 235-unit housing facility for students, faculty, and staff in Allston. Both members of the design team of Machado and Silvetti have GSD connections. Jorge Silvetti and partner Rodolfo Machado teach at the school.

A Harvard spokeswoman knocks down the antiarchitect conspiracy theory advanced here. “There is no linkage between 1 Western Avenue and the selection of the task force members,” Lauren Marshall explains. “Membership of each committee reflects broad representation from within the university to help generate a collaborative vision of the planning assumptions. Their objective is to discuss and enhance the planning assumptions, and to give academics’ perspectives on the priorities and programs that will drive the physical planning.”

About John Massengale

Architect, Urbanist, Author, Educator
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