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Old 06-04-2007, 06:13 PM   #1
czsz
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Complete Harvard Law School - Northwest Corner complex | Cambridge

New Northwest Corner complex of Harvard Law School:

http://www.law.harvard.edu/about/nwc/

RA Stern is one of the architects involved. The design echoes elements of HLS' Harkness Commons (in the Walter Gropius complex) as well as HH Richardson's Austin Hall.

Current arrangement:



Future arrangement:



Mass Ave. facade:







Detail rendering:



Aerial rendering from southeast:



Scheduled completion: Summer 2011
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:32 PM   #2
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Re: Northwest Corner project at Harvard Law School

Quote:
Originally Posted by czsz
RA Stern is one of the architects involved. The design echoes elements of HLS' Harkness Commons (in the Walter Gropius complex) as well as HH Richardson's Austin Hall.
Which is exactly what's wrong with it...

From the Harvard's Northwest Science Building thread:

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Originally Posted by Beton Brut
On Stern's Law School building: it looks like H.H. Richardson (the Styrian arches) vs. Gordon Bunshaft (the glass curtain wall, facing the courtyard)...Like Lou Reed said, what good is bacon & ice cream...?
Pick a side, or get shot at by both...

Last edited by Beton Brut; 10-05-2009 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:52 PM   #3
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I really like those arches but I'm not so hot on the color.
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Old 06-04-2007, 11:53 PM   #4
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Looks like Boston City Hall turned upside down:

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Old 06-05-2007, 07:41 AM   #5
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Should be taller, especially along Mass. Ave.
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Old 06-05-2007, 10:51 AM   #6
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Why specifically should this be taller, other than to satisfy your seemingly phallic obsession with tall buildings? Explain, you're supposedly the architect here, though with your one liners, I find that hard to believe unless your latest achievement is the most recent 3 bed, 1 bath shotgun shack going up in every 55 plus community in the outer suburbs.
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Old 06-05-2007, 11:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmp1284
Why specifically should this be taller, other than to satisfy your seemingly phallic obsession with tall buildings? Explain, you're supposedly the architect here, though with your one liners, I find that hard to believe unless your latest achievement is the most recent 3 bed, 1 bath shotgun shack going up in every 55 plus community in the outer suburbs.
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Old 06-05-2007, 11:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmp1284
Why specifically should this be taller, other than to satisfy your seemingly phallic obsession with tall buildings?
As Ablarc's said earlier in this thread, the reason why he wants a taller building is simply because Mass Ave. is wide up there, and to create a proper sense of enclosure the buildings should be built up more, just like how he's advocated elsewhere for buildings of the Mandarin's height to go up on Boylston in order to create a true boulevard feel.
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Old 06-06-2007, 12:33 AM   #9
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Harvard was certainly concerned with context here - but not along Mass. Ave. It wants a coherent campus here, and the degree to which it frames the apartment houses across the boulevard is of as little concern as it was when the university built the outer shell of Harvard Yard several stories lower than the commercial buildings nearer Harvard Square. The urge is to enforce separation between town and gown, to make the university a distinct space.
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Old 06-07-2007, 01:24 AM   #10
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i just noticed that half of Pound Hall is to go missing. what's up with that? (not sad to see it go, but there are buildings more deserving...)


Quote:
Originally Posted by czsz
Harvard was certainly concerned with context here - but not along Mass. Ave. It wants a coherent campus here,
the lack of coherence in HUSL is pretty remarkable -- especially in the strip mall motel style dorms (?) behind Pound, and in the meandering walk on the Mass Ave side of the Library that ends in a parking lot / cab stand nee front entrance to the school. The 2 sided yard area also barely works (despite the park layout itself being swell) due to the science buildings turning their backs on Law's library and Hauser pretty much refusing to talk to anyone. None of the buildings (outside those actually attached to the main Library structures) are in anyway that I can remember complements in style, function or feng shui...

the other than the merits of the structure itself (looks worthwhile, but what do i know) the benefits here seem to mainly be in a.) removing the garage, and b.) using Pound hall as a backstop rather than a main feature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by czsz
and the degree to which it frames the apartment houses across the boulevard is of as little concern as it was when the university built the outer shell of Harvard Yard several stories lower than the commercial buildings nearer Harvard Square.
i don't get this (probably misunderstanding you). the core of Harvard Yard predates most of the commercial buildings of the square. moreover, the commercial buildings have been steadily growing upwards over time, by additions, replacements, and new construction.

moreover the grad non-resident hall (whatever the name) and the library that corners the yard over where the gas station on Mass ave (now hotel) was both do a fair job of looming over or at least meeting eye to eye the commercial buildings -- and the main Library building is significantly more massive and tall, and does also form the shell of the yard.

point me in the right direction on your comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by czsz
The urge is to enforce separation between town and gown, to make the university a distinct space.
are you considering that gown to a very large degree owns town (at both ends, btw)? the Square area is marbled with HU owned stock -- more owned than not. there are two other possibilities i can think of off the top of my head: the school would rather not call attention to its commercial and residential holdings by appearing to to be everywhere (i.e. better to look constrained than to be constrained), or perhaps the corporation simply is methodical about what it consumes, working on a coarse level. probably lots of other perspectives too...

again, i'd like to hear more of what you are thinking...
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Old 06-07-2007, 06:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
strip mall motel style dorms (?) behind Pound,
Do you mean the former Quality Inn on Mass. Ave., which Harvard bought and converted to a dorm? They'd do better to eventually demolish that and build a structure more appropriate for its function.
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Old 06-07-2007, 08:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman
Quote:
strip mall motel style dorms (?) behind Pound,
Do you mean the former Quality Inn on Mass. Ave., which Harvard bought and converted to a dorm? They'd do better to eventually demolish that and build a structure more appropriate for its function.
The former motel is known as North Hall. Wyeth Hall, another law school dorm, is being demolished. Two Victorian era houses, Baker House and the Ukrainian Institute House, are being moved up Mass Ave to near North Hall. Apparently the portion of Pound Hall being demolished is to create a new yard between the Northwest complex, Harkness, and Pound.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:55 PM   #13
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The "strip mall dorms behind Pound Hall" he's talking about, I think, are part of the Gropius Complex. It's a low-slung collection of beige brick dorm buildings connected by covered walkways. The Law School (where I work) would LOVE to tear those ugly and not-very-functional buildings down but the city finds them historic (or potentially historic someday).

The Law School (2 years ago) remodeled the interior of Harkness Commons (the dining portion of the complex) but was required to leave the exterior the same.
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Old 06-07-2007, 04:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
the meandering walk on the Mass Ave side of the Library that ends in a parking lot / cab stand nee front entrance to the school.
It's less a front entrance than an elite parking lot for high rolling profs like Dershowitz whose contract probably stipulates he gets a deeded space x meters from their offices in Pound. Note all those spots are reserved. I've never seen cabs standing there.

Quote:
The 2 sided yard area also barely works (despite the park layout itself being swell) due to the science buildings turning their backs on Law's library and Hauser pretty much refusing to talk to anyone.
Agreed; it would have been ideal for HLS to have surrounded Holmes Field (the large Yard-like area that borders Langdell (the law library) and Hauser). The science faculties aren't moving, though, and are fairly self-contained, orienting themselves across Oxford St. There's actually a movement among them to evict HLS to Allston because they claim they need more space closer to the university that self-contained HLS is hogging solely for the prestige of a Cambridge address and closer proximity to Harvard Square cafes. Fortunately, the law school has too much clout to ever let this happen; if the science faculties were victorious, they'd probably dump some glass sheds on Holmes Field and god knows what other technical equipment all over the rest of the LS campus.

The idea that there's going to be a "Law Yard" where the east wind of Pound is now is somewhat ludicrous; it would be a tiny space and not really unite many of the LS campus buildings. If only HLS could swap some buildings on the opposite side of Holmes for that NW corner space...

Quote:
None of the buildings (outside those actually attached to the main Library structures) are in anyway that I can remember complements in style, function or feng shui...
Not really. There's a strong Richardsonian Romanesque current though (Austin, Hauser, and the Korean church that's on HLS property but is really separate in every way from Harvard), and Langdell is such a presence that it virtually creates its own classicist counterweight. Together they all have at least convey a sense of brooding gravitas. The Gropius complex ("the strip mall dorms") is what really doesn't belong, significant though it is. The Stern building is trying to make the new structure an amalgam of all three of these idioms; unfortunately, its awkwardly off-center location makes it less than ideal for synthesizing the law school architecturally.

Quote:
i don't get this (probably misunderstanding you). the core of Harvard Yard predates most of the commercial buildings of the square. moreover, the commercial buildings have been steadily growing upwards over time, by additions, replacements, and new construction.

moreover the grad non-resident hall (whatever the name) and the library that corners the yard over where the gas station on Mass ave (now hotel) was both do a fair job of looming over or at least meeting eye to eye the commercial buildings -- and the main Library building is significantly more massive and tall, and does also form the shell of the yard.
The CORE of the Yard predates most of the square buildings, but the outer shell of buildings (closest to Mass. Ave.) date mostly to the early 20th century (some came as late as the 30s, I think). These were built much later than the 5-story buildings east of the Holyoke Center and, being much shorter, clearly effect a conscious contrast between the commercial buildings and the campus ones. The desire here, I think, is to make as much of a distinction as possible between the university (as a place of quietude and contemplating scholarship) and the city outside. The effect on the person crossing the street is to make him or her not think that they are merely going to the other side of Mass. Ave., but into another realm entirely. It's separation of uses reinforced by the massing of the architecture.

As far as the latter structures you mentioned - I agree they reinforce the two-sided street wall on Mass Ave. Maybe that's why Harvard wanted a lower structure when Wyeth Hall (the first building you refer to) is taken down. I remember an apartment building on Kirkland St. that was taller than its Harvard GSD replacement...another good example of this theory in action.

Quote:
are you considering that gown to a very large degree owns town (at both ends, btw)? the Square area is marbled with HU owned stock -- more owned than not. there are two other possibilities i can think of off the top of my head: the school would rather not call attention to its commercial and residential holdings by appearing to to be everywhere (i.e. better to look constrained than to be constrained), or perhaps the corporation simply is methodical about what it consumes, working on a coarse level. probably lots of other perspectives too...
Many of the buildings in Harvard Square (and their counterparts on the campus across the street) were built at a time when Harvard did not, in fact, control construction outside its campus walls. Reinforcing the distinction wouldn't have had much to do with ownership at that point. Yet, note that enforcing a separation between university and city has less to do with actual ownership of the buildings than with ideas about how those buildings are perceived and used. Hypothetically, Harvard could have built the square itself and still have chosen to draw a distinction between campus and commercial structures.

All of this gets more complicated when we start to consider the Houses south of the square and how they interact with the rest of the city, which happens to be more complementary than Harvard's Mass. Ave. buildings. I wanted to keep the focus on Mass. Ave. because it helped illustrate what I think they were trying to achieve with the massing of Stern's building at the law school.



Quote:
The Law School (where I work) would LOVE to tear those ugly and not-very-functional buildings down but the city finds them historic (or potentially historic someday).
The Gropius dorms ARE historic - they are so named because they were designed by Walter Gropius (founder of the Bauhaus) himself while he was at Harvard GSD. These are easily among the most architecturally significant buildings at Harvard, along with Corbusier's Carpenter Hall. That said, I agree they don't really belong with the rest of the HLS complex. They'd be better off with more space to reinforce their low-slung atmosphere - in Allston, maybe? It'd be a fantasy to move them down there, but I think they'd be better complemented by (or complement) the new grad complex on Western Ave. (the one with the shifty window tower that stands adjacent to Soldiers Field Rd.)
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Old 06-07-2007, 05:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmp1284
Why specifically should this be taller, other than to satisfy your seemingly phallic obsession with tall buildings?
Just noticed this. Statler got it right (thanks, Statler ). An eight-story slab such as you'd find on the Boulevard St. Michel is hardly phallic.

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Explain, you're supposedly the architect here, though with your one liners...[et al.]
I also do two-liners.

Why so peevish?
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Old 06-07-2007, 05:31 PM   #16
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Are the Gropius buildings old enough to fall under historic-district rules?
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Old 06-07-2007, 05:39 PM   #17
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^ 1950 --though they were recently redone and somewhat falsified.
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:08 PM   #18
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Only the student center (Harkness Commons) was really redone; the dorms retain their attractive interiors. So attractive, in fact, that at least half of Harvard Law students opt for far more expensive accomodation, leaving the Gropius barracks to be occupied mostly by unsuspecting foreign LLM students (read: cash cows).
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Old 06-08-2007, 07:42 AM   #19
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^ The issue was uthenticity, not attractiveness. If you think about it, how much attractiveness can you really squeeze out of utilitarian functionalism?
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Old 06-08-2007, 11:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ablarc
^ The issue was uthenticity, not attractiveness. If you think about it, how much attractiveness can you really squeeze out of utilitarian functionalism?
What about functionality? For how long should a school (or any organization) be required to keep out-of-date structures that don't meet their intended function? The only group that is well served by the Gropius complex dorms are architecture critics and professors. The people that actually have to use the buildings--the students, staff, and faculty of HLS--are not being served well at all, and they seem to have no way of extricating themselves from the situation because the opinion of a small minority of philosopher kings have determined that the buildings are important.

It occurs to me that if I were planning for a new building on campus, I'd hire someone completely unaccomplished. Better to have a building that can be knocked down in 30 years than a building that will tie my hands forever because of the name of the designer.
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