Photographing History by Bill Lebovich: Harvard has the only LeCorbu Building in the US

Just across the street from Harvard Yard, with its University Hall, a stone block building by Charles Bulfinch, a 18th century graduate of the College, and three centuries of brick dorms, chapel, and administrative buildings executed in Colonial, Federal, Gothic, Colonial Revival, and the unequalled H.H.Richardson’s Sever Hall, stands the 1963 Carpenter Center, a concrete building bisected by a curving ramp.  The ramp is the most important and interesting feature of this building (#1,2,3).  The ramp and the building it is attached to are also surrounded by other brick buildings of Harvard, but all of early 20th century Colonial/Georgian/ Federal Revival (not that the names mean much).

Harvard points out proudly it is the only LeCorbusier building in North America, but Harvard at least thru the early 1970s never seemed to figure out how to use the building.  To this outsider, it always seemed underutilized.  But than again the distinction of having the only LeCorbu was probably more important than how it was used.

Harvard put an addition on the rear and side(#4), an attempt that was not too successful at being modern compatible.  But the addition does have one good point; it reminds even the most casual observer that building LeCorbu designed needed ImageImageImageImage a much bigger parcel, so the ramp could move through space, in the sense of Space,Time, and Architecture.


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