Modern Monday: Pusey Library at Harvard University

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1976 image included in Architectural Record 09-1976. Edward Jacoby photographer.

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Pusey Library as seen from Widener Library steps.

The Pusey Library in Harvard Yard was conceived from a 1960 report by Harvard, which outlined the needs for future expansion and growth for the university. The potential for expansion of facilities within Harvard Yard was surveyed between 1968 and 1970 by Hugh Stubbins, who examined the 22-acre area for circulation and the possibility for additional structures. Three years later, Stubbins was commissioned to design a new library in Harvard Yard.


Harvard University: An Inventory for Planning, 1960. Copy in CHC Library. 

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Pusey Library viewed from Harvard Yard.

The new library was to be named after Nathan Pusey, president of Harvard University from 1953-1971. President Pusey oversaw one of the largest building programs in Harvard’s history (second only to President Lowell). In 1957, Pusey announced the start of a program for Harvard College, a $82.5 million effort that raised $20 million more and resulted in three additions to the undergraduate House system: Quincy House (1959), Leverett Towers (1960), and Mather House (1970). During the 1960s, the Program for Harvard Medicine raised $58 million. In April 1965, the Harvard endowment exceeded $1 billion for the first time. Pusey left Harvard in June 1971 to become the second president of New York’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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1964 portrait of President Pusey. Courtesy of Radcliffe College Archives.

Hugh Stubbins believed that an above-ground library would be too constricted in the Yard and he began plans for a subterranean structure. From the beginning, the proposed library was envisioned as an interconnecting link among three existing libraries – Widener, Houghton and Lamont, all within close proximity. Its roof serves as a link as well, with paths and landscaping reinforcing the existing circulation network in the yard. From the exterior, the Pusey Library is a slanting grass-covered embankment only visible from some areas in Harvard Yard. Its roof is a stone-rimmed platform of earth containing a lawn, trees and shrubs.

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Plan of Pusey Library.

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Site plan and level one plan of Pusey Library. 

The main entrance to the library is built into the slope of the hill with a broad band of brick paving at the ground level which forms a moat between the berm and the window wall. The moat allows for light to reach the interior on the perimeter walls without completely disrupting the landscape. Alexander Calder’s “The Onion” sculpture marks the main entry to the library.

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Current view of “The Onion” by Alexander Calder.

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1976 image included in Architectural Record 09-1976. Edward Jacoby photographer.

At the center, a two-story light well between Houghton and Lamont is apparent seemingly to only those who look for it. Sunk down two floors into the ground, the well is home to a Japanese Maple tree, which just peaks out from its subterranean home providing a clear statement of presence for the library.

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Interior sunken courtyard with large maple tree. 

Stubbins even designed the interior spaces, using a very 70’s design aesthetic. Nylon carpeting was used throughout except in bookstack areas. Most of the furniture was made of oak, as was the trim work. Walls were covered with a textured vinyl fabric with a flat off-white, non-reflective surface to reduce sound reverberation and create a sense of warmth in the otherwise bunker-like building. The interior spaces have since been modernized to meet current needs for the library.

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Interior design by Hugh Stubbins’ office. Photographed by Edward Jacoby, 1976.

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While underground construction is not needed or desirable in every location, it was brilliantly executed at the Pusey Library. Former Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission and historian, Bainbridge Bunting has said, “No other building has added so much to Harvard Yard yet disturbed its integrity so little”. We could not agree more!






Architectural Record. September 1976, pages 97-102.


Nathan Marsh Pusey, Biography. Harvard University.

Radcliffe Archives, Pusey Hall under construction. Images.


Maud Morgan: Artist, Teacher, Friend

Much of the text from this post was provided by the Cambridge Women’s Heritage Project


“Maude Morgan” photographed by Jamie Cope (1993). Gift of Jamie Cope to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in honor of Maud Morgan

Born in New York City, Maud Cabot graduated from Barnard College in 1926 and traveled to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. She did not begin to paint until she was twenty-four, when she met her future husband, the artist Pat Morgan, in the late 1920s in Paris. In 1929, the couple moved back to New York, where she studied at the Arts Student League.

Following her studies, Morgan worked with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann and began to exhibit at galleries in New York. In 1938, Morgan had a successful show at the Julian Levy Gallery, known as a haven for Surrealist art as well as experimental film and photography. During the show’s run, paintings by Morgan were sold to the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).


“The Old Mill” by Maud Morgan, ca. 1930-1940. Whitney Museum of American Art, 42.33

In 1940 she and her husband moved to Andover, Mass, where he taught art at Phillips Academy, and she began to teach at the nearby girls’ boarding school, Abbot Academy. The couple had two children. In 1957, Morgan separated from her husband and moved to Boston. A few years later she moved to Cambridge, where she lived and painted for the rest of her life.


Clipping from the Cambridge Chronicle, 2 April 1964, depicting Maud Morgan and her winning painting “Candelabra” from the 20th Annual Spring Exhibition of the Cambridge Arts Association

Morgan continued to exhibit in New York, primarily at the Betty Parsons Gallery, where she was included in joint exhibitions with Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and other notable contemporary artists. Morgan had two retrospective exhibitions, 1967-1968 at the Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Art Museum, and 1977 at the Addison Gallery of American Art.


“Nautique SSX” by Maud Cabot Morgan, 1974. Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, gift of Victoria M. Benedict, 1977.168. This screenprint was exhibited in Maud Morgan: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1927-1977, Addison Gallery of American Art

The addition of an artist’s studio at her 3 Howland Street residence was designed by Yugoslav-American architect Alexander Cvijanovic in 1962.

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Proposed Addition to the Residence of Mrs. Patrick Morgan, 3 Howland Str Cambridge, Mass. Alexander Cvijanovic, Designer. June 12, 1962

Cvijanovic was a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and later became a partner in The Architects Collaborative (TAC) as well as a close associate of Walter Gropius. The studio addition was demolished in 2004.

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The artist’s studio at 3 Howland Street in 1965

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The artist’s studio at 3 Howland Street ca. 2004

Cvijanovic’s wife, Maria, remembers that her husband very much enjoyed working on the project, after which the couple and Morgan became life-long friends. Following the commission of her studio, Morgan gifted the couple one of her paintings–a piece that still hangs in their home today.


Alexander Cvijanovic in his apartment in front of the two pictures of the Amberg “glass cathedral.” This building was the last planned together by Walter Gropius and Cvijanovic, his partner. Photo: Peter Geiger (Mittelbayerische, 2016)

In 1970, after her divorce was final, Morgan spent six months in Africa. She returned to Cambridge and lectured on art at Harvard and MIT and taught at Lesley College’s Institute for the Arts and Human Development.


“Green Hazard” by Maud Morgan (ca. late twentieth century). Lawrence University Wriston Art Center Galleries Collections

According to Morgan’s Getty record, the artist was known as “Boston’s modernist doyenne,” leaving a legacy spanning 80 years worth of skilled and complex works “from abstracts to still lifes and self-portraits as well as collages.”‘


Still from “Light Coming Through” (1980).

In 1980 a film about Morgan’s art, “Light Coming Through,” by Nancy V. Raine (Producer/Co-Director) and Richard Leacock (Co-Director/Cinematographer) was released. The film premiered on October 21 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and was later shown at MoMA in New York and the Place Pompidou in Paris.


Maud Cabot Morgan, ca. 1950 / unidentified photographer. Robert G. McIntyre papers, 1903-1957. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

In her eighties and nineties, she continued painting, displaying continuing creativity. She received an Honor Award in 1987 from the Women’s Caucus for Art. Since 1993 the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which holds a number of her significant paintings, has awarded the Maud Morgan prize yearly to a mid-career woman artist from Massachusetts.


Maud Morgan with self portrait, ca. 1990 / unidentified photographer. Robert and Jonatha Ceely papers regarding Maud Morgan, 1976-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

In 1995, at the age of ninety-two, she published an autobiography, Maud’s Journey: A Life From Art. She died four years later in Cambridge and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery. An art museum and gallery, Maud Morgan Arts, has been constructed in her honor.


Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center, located behind the Agassiz Baldwin Community Center at 20 Sacramento Street. Photograph © 2010, John Horner.


Maud (Cabot) Morgan – Cambridge Women’s Heritage Project
Die Spurensuche führte bis nach Boston
Union List of Artist’s Names – Maud Morgan

Modern Monday: Cambridge Federal Savings Bank, 38 Brattle Street

The former Cambridge Federal Savings Bank was designed in 1937 by local architect William L. Galvin as was located at 38 Brattle Street in Harvard Square.

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38 Brattle Street as it was constructed, photo taken circa 1939.

The limestone-faced bank was an excellent and rare example of Art Moderne architecture in Cambridge built at the tail-end of the Great Depression. At this time, banking institutions sought high-quality design in their facilities to provide a sense of wealth and security for existing and prospective members. The two-story bank was symmetrical in form and had a metal and glass storefront with glass blocks comprising most openings.

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Drawing of Cambridge Federal Savings Bank from William L. Galvin Collection at CHC Archives.

At the entrance, a curved metal canopy was topped by a bold glass transom with an eagle etched into the glass by Galvin. Also designed by Galvin, two porthole windows showing a beaver and an owl respectively, were etched into glass. The beaver was included, likely for its industrious qualities and the owl for its wisdom.


Drawing of eagle design used in transom from William L. Galvin Collection at CHC Archives.

As the banking industry grew after the conclusion of World War II, the bank expanded, also hiring Galvin to design a one-story addition which blended seamlessly with the main structure.

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Photo of 38 Brattle Street after merging with Watertown Federal Savings Bank, 1972. 

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Photo showing one-story addition to the left of the main building at 38 Brattle Street, 1972.

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1966 Sanborn Map showing location and detail of 38 Brattle Street.

In 1967, the Cambridge Federal Savings and Loan Association merged with Watertown Federal Savings Association and was renamed as the Northeast Federal Savings Bank. The bank building at 38 Brattle Street was named a branch office of the bank and served that use for the remainder of its life.
A demolition application was submitted in 1987 for the building and it was demolished soon after to be replaced by One Brattle Square.

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Staff photo of One Brattle Square, 2013.

Staff of the Cambridge Historical Commission was able to save the large transom with etched eagle design from the building just before it was demolished, the two porthole windows were already removed. The transom is now framed in the wall of our conference room at 831 Massachusetts Avenue.


For more information on the building or if you would like to schedule a visit to our office to review Galvin’s plans and drawings in the William L. Galvin Collection, please contact us at





Modern Monday: McCormick Hall and Katharine Dexter’s Legacy at MIT

In the year 1960, just 22 women were admitted to MIT, in comparison to 914 men. President James Killian and his Chancellor Julius Stratton made the decision not only to admit more women to the university, but to actively work to improve the environment and resources available for female students.

Women at MIT Enrollment

The shift to admit and provide better education to young women was described years later in 1970 in a report written by Professor Emily Wick, Associate Dean of Students and the first woman promoted to tenure at MIT:

“Until the Institute could commit itself to educating women in significant numbers, and could provide suitable living conditions, coeds were not overly `successful.’ … Before 1960 women entered MIT at their own risk. If they succeeded — fine! If they failed — well, no one had expected them to succeed. … The class of 1964 entered in 1960 knowing that MIT believed in women students. It was the first class in which coeds, as a group, matched the proportion of B.S. degrees earned by their male classmates!”

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Emily L. Wick talking with students circa 1963. Photo courtesy of MIT Class of 1964.

Katharine Dexter (1875-1967) graduated from MIT in 1904 in biology. She married Stanley McCormick whose mental illness emerged soon after. Throughout her life, she tried to find a biological basis and cure for schizophrenia as well as supporting women’s right to vote as a strong proponent of the suffrage movement. Later in life, she turned her full attention to the construction of the first women’s dormitory at MIT, which coincided with the Institute’s newly established goals for admitting more women. She donated her house at 120 Bay State Road for a women’s dormitory (the only such dormitory for female MIT students), and it housed approximately 19 graduate and undergraduate women students from the early 1950′s until McCormick opened. Katharine even funded a taxi service to shuttle the students to campus on poor weather days.


Katharine Dexter McCormick in 1913. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

In 1963, the west wing of Stanley McCormick Hall was dedicated and named after her late husband. Just three years later, the second wing (a second tower) was constructed and dedicated just after her death. Both phases of the building were bankrolled by Katharine Dexter McCormick and were to house women studying at MIT. McCormick Hall was designed by Herbert Beckwith, a member of MIT’s architecture faculty and principal of the firm Anderson, Beckwith and Haible. The dorms could today be classified as “Brutalist” in design. The two concrete and glass towers front Memorial Drive and are connected by a low-rise community space. The buildings are used today as all-female dorms housing upwards of 255 students.

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Katharine McCormick speaking at McCormick Hall dedication ceremony. Photo courtesy of MIT Class of 1964.

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McCormick Hall West Wing. Photo courtesy of MIT Class of 1964.


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Image located in McCormick Hall Survey File at CHC. Photo circa 1966.

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Image located in McCormick Hall Survey File at CHC. Photo circa 1967.

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2017 aerial view of McCormick Hall and surrounding structures.

To learn more about McCormick Hall, feel free to make a research appointment with us by emailing

Historic Building Feature Friday: Austin Hall, Harvard Law School

Designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1884, Austin Hall at Harvard University stands out as one of the best examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in the world.

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Austin Hall in 2012 showing circular stair and arched entry. Courtesy of Harvard University Fine Arts Collection.

Austin Hall was constructed thanks to Edward Austin who was born to a commercial family. He entered the shipping business at a young age and later turned to management of railroads, ending up as the Director of the Boston & Worcester (later Boston & Albany) railroad. In 1880, without ever attending Harvard University, he inquired then Harvard President Eliot on how he could provide for the greatest immediate need for the university while also erecting a memorial to his deceased brother Samuel. Eliot replied that the Law School required expanded facilities. Austin then replied to Eliot that he detested lawyers, but later offered funding for the structure.

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Edward Austin circa. 1860.

In 1882, after already hiring H.H. Richardson, settling on a location for the building, and approving a design, Austin offered Harvard $135,000 to construct his building, with the stipulation that no other structure stand within 60 feet of this new Law School building. The former Harvard Branch Railroad Station and the ca. 1717 Moses Richardson house were razed immediately. The building was constructed with the Hastings-Holmes house  nearby, until Austin insisted that the house be sacrificed and offered Harvard an additional $3,000 to have it removed. Holmes Place, which Austin Hall fronted, was eliminated.

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Austin Hall (left) shortly after completion with Hastings-Holmes house (right) in front before demolition.

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Austin Hall in early 1900s. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

The elaborate structure known as Austin Hall is planned in a T-shape with the two-story reading room serving as the shaft of the T. The main façade is dominated by a triple-arched entry porch and a circular stair tower. The checkerboard and floral patterns in the stone work are comprised of light and dark sandstone, and were not complete until after the formal opening of the new building.

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Plan for Austin Hall. Courtesy of Harvard Law School Library.

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Exterior sandstone detail with floral pattern. Courtesy of Harvard University Fine Arts Collection.

The interior is just as stunning as the exterior with continuation of arches and supports in the hallways to the delicate layering of brick and sandstone. The reading room (since remodeled into the Ames Courtroom in 1954), features exposed tie beams carved with the heads of dragons and boars as well as a massive fireplace with ornate detailing to match the rest of the building.

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Interior detailing. Courtesy of Harvard University Fine Arts Collection.

For more information on this building, feel free to schedule a research appointment with us at

Modern Monday: Hayden Memorial Library at MIT

For today’s #ModernMonday posting, we are highlighting the Hayden Memorial Library at MIT.

Hayden Library PHoto

Located on Memorial Drive, the library is named after Charles Hayden (1870-1937) an MIT alum (1890) who studied “mining investment.” Hayden was a philanthropist who donated vast sums of money for the construction of buildings including; the Hayden Planetarium in New York, the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Boston Museum of Science, and the Hayden Memorial Library at MIT to name a few. Hayden was involved with philanthropy most of his life. During World War I, he donated $100,000 per year to the American Red Cross. Hayden’s largest philanthropic effort came following his death in 1937 when his will directed roughly $50,000,000 ($853 million in today’s dollars) from his estate be used to create a foundation to advance the education and “moral, mental, and physical well-being” of boys and young men. The organization, known today as “The Charles Hayden Foundation”, distributes grants of between $10,000,000 and $20,000,000 annually to support programs for children in the Boston and New York metropolitan areas.

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Charles Hayden in 1934, from the American Museum of Natural History Digital Special Collections.

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Architectural drawing included in Architectural Record, Nov. 1946.

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Architectural drawing included in Architectural Record, Nov. 1946.

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Architectural drawing included in Architectural Record, Nov. 1946.

The Hayden Memorial Library at MIT was unveiled beginning in 1946 when the Architectural Record highlighted the design of the building. The building was designed by Ralph Walker (MIT Class of 1911) of Voorhees, Walker, Foley and Smith Architects and was completed in 1951 in a Post-WWII Art Moderne Style. Walker was called “The only other honest architect in America” by Frank Lloyd Wright, and “Architect of the Century” by The New York Times when he received the Centennial Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architects. He was most well known for his Art Deco buildings in New York. “Three years after accepting his award from the New York Times, he resigned from the AIA amid controversy surrounding a member of his firm who was accused of stealing another firm’s contract. Though he was later cleared of all wrongdoing and reinstated, he was apparently never the same afterwards. Ten years later, in 1973, Walker shot himself with a silver bullet, only after destroying his AIA award. His original firm still exists under the name HLW International, but as Walker and his wife had no children, all that remains of his great legacy are the buildings he created” (Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century).

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Hayden Library in 1968, photo part of CHC Survey files.

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Hayden Library in 1968, photo part of CHC Survey files.

The Hayden Library inaugurated the expansion and modernization of MIT’s academic facilities and was one of the first truly Modern buildings on the campus. At the time, vast amounts of technical literature – generated largely by the war – had to be housed, and facilities had to be updated to accommodate recent advances in conservation, storage, and photographic reproduction. The Hayden Library would have to meet those demands. The protruding two-story glass bays allow ample natural light into the library and the limestone façade serves as a nod to the older Beaux Arts MIT buildings nearby.

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Photo of Hayden Library courtesy of University of Michigan Digital Archives.


Utilizing the Hayden Library’s initial design goal of “flexibility”, Shepley Bulfinch re-imagined the building as the hub of the MIT Library System in 2012 and it now houses collections for science, engineering, humanities, music, and archives.

The 1951 building remains as a great example of Modern architecture in Cambridge and shows how good architectural design can be timeless and adapted to meet future needs.

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CHC Color slide of Hayden Library in 1990s.


Modern Monday: Esplanade Condominiums


The Esplanade from the Charles River. Courtesy of Safdie Architects.

#ModernMonday is featuring the Esplanade Condominiums (1989) at 75-83 Cambridge Parkway in East Cambridge. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie with Safdie Architects, the building could be classified as “structuralism” with its cubist features and grid-like design. The building was the final structure completed in “The Front” which is bounded by Cambridge Parkway and Edwin Land Boulevard.

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Edwin Land Boulevard entrance. Courtesy of Safdie Architects.

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Edwin Land Boulevard façade. Courtesy of Safdie Architects.

The building, which is comprised of 206 units, had to comply with strict urban design guidelines laid out as part of the East Cambridge Urban Design Plan. This plan limited height, required brick as the main material for construction, and required building on the street edge. Given the high water table, the parking for the structure is above-grade, and the design minimizes the impact of the parking base by encasing the riverfront (east) elevation with housing units and a community garden on the parking roof at the fourth floor.

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Cambridge Parkway façade, facing north. Courtesy of Safdie Architects.

The structure takes cues from Safdie’s 1967 project, Habitat 67 in Montreal, Canada with the repetition of cube projections with terraces and use of public spaces incorporated into the building’s design. In the real estate sales brochure for the building, the building’s form was said to have been inspired by the homes on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Upon its completion, The Esplanade building was known to have the highest value units in the city. The design, coupled with the sweeping views of the river and Boston skyline created a huge draw for investors and homeowners alike.

Habitat 67

Habitat 67: Originally conceived as Safdie’s master’s thesis in architecture and then built as a pavilion for Expo 67, the World’s Fair held from April to October 1967. The Esplanade Condominium building seems to be inspired by the earlier design by Safdie.

Thanks to Safdie Architects for the original photographs and floor plans.

Building and Structure Documentation Collection: Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory

Today, we are highlighting a building from our Building and Structure Documentation Collection. This collection documents buildings and structures in Cambridge that were either demolished or significantly altered. In this case, the materials were compiled as a condition of approval by the Cambridge Planning Board for a proposed replacement project.

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Close-up view of south facade of Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, Naito Chemistry Complex is under construction at the left of the photograph, 1999-2000.

For each building or structure, the corresponding box often includes an architectural description of the building or buildings, a narrative history, and archival photographs, negatives, photograph key(s), and/or electronic copies of the files and photographs. Today we are featuring the documentation of the Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory.

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Copy photograph of Wolcott Gibbs circa 1895. Original in Harvard University Archives.

The Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, named to honor Harvard University Rumford professor Oliver Wolcott Gibbs, was originally constructed in 1913 to address issues of limited laboratory space at Harvard.

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View northwest, perspective view of Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory in 1913. Original in Harvard University Archives.

Located at the head of Frisbie Place, the building was designed by architect and 1876 Harvard graduate Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr., nephew of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, for research in physical and inorganic chemistry.

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View into cold storage room and laboratory, second floor, Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, 1999-2000. This room was not part of the original building plan.

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View west from east side entrance into Gibbs Memorial Laboratory basement, 1999-2000. Note autoclave in center of photograph.


The laboratory cost $85,000 to build. During its construction in 1912, the Harvard Crimson noted that “The Wolcott Gibbs Laboratory will be unique in this country, and in fact will be the foremost institution of its kind in the world. The proposed group of buildings, which will cost a million dollars, would give the University an unrivaled place in the field of chemical science.”

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View of vestibule from front hall, first floor of Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, 1999-2000. Note the six light transom set above the doors. An arch at the top frames the individual lights and mullions delimit them. The frame around each light resembles a pier arch.

The building was constructed with a high degree of integrity of design including elements derived from classical, Roman, medieval, late Gothic and Corinthian architecture. In the 1960s, the laboratory was remodeled for inclusion of biochemistry laboratories, and in the early 2000s, the building was demolished.

Look for more building and structure documentation in future posts!

Event: Cambridgeport Walking Tour

On Saturday October 27th at 1:30pm, the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association will lead a walking tour of the 12 religious buildings nestled into the neighborhood of Cambridgeport. The tour will meet at the intersection of Magazine Street and Green Street (at the area in front of the First Baptist Church) at 1:30pm and proceed from there, lasting about 2 hours. The event is co-sponsored by the Cambridge Historical Commission and the Cambridge Peace Commission, as well as C-port’s own Gallery 263.


The tour will end at the gallery (263 Pearl St, Cambridge MA) for some refreshments and an exhibition of architectural drawings of these buildings. During the tour, we will have the privilege of going inside some of these buildings, and we will be joined by representatives from several of the churches along the way. For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations please contact GABE@MIT.EDU


Building and Structure Documentation Collection: 55 Wheeler Street

Today, we are highlighting a building from our recently opened Building and Structure Documentation Collection. This collection documents buildings and structures in Cambridge that were either demolished or significantly altered. In this case the materials were compiled as a condition of approval by the Cambridge Planning Board for a proposed replacement project.


55 Wheeler Street: interior view of reception area

For each building or structure, the corresponding box often includes an architectural description of the building or buildings, a narrative history, and archival photographs, negatives, photograph key(s), and/or electronic copies of the files and photographs.

Documented structures in this collection include buildings from the former Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Company, and the Fogg Museum from the Harvard Art Museum Restoration and Expansion Project. Today we are featuring the documentation of the Abt Associates office complex at 55 Wheeler Street.


55 Wheeler Street: exterior facade

The Abt Associates Office Complex, much of which is less than 50 years old as of 2018, is located at 55 Wheeler Street, Cambridge, Mass. Abt Associates – which relocated to other offices in Cambridge in 2017 – is “a consulting firm that specializes in combining social sciences, computer forecasting, operations analysis and systems engineering to address technological advances and social change.” (Historical Narrative, Westbrook Properties Documentation). The firm grew rapidly in the 1960s and ‘70s, and the complex was repeatedly enlarged to enclose a series of beautifully landscaped quadrangles; almost every occupant enjoyed an exterior view.

The internationally renowned architect and urban planner Imre Halasz (1925-2003) was one of the most important designers associated with the complex. Halasz came to the US from Hungary in 1957 and taught at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning for forty years. His firm, Imre & Anthony Halasz Inc., operated from 1957 to 1991. Halasz was also responsible for the master plan of the NASA Electronics Research Center (later the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center) in Kendall Square.


55 Wheeler Street: courtyard view

Abt Associates was formed in Cambridge in 1965 by Dr. Clark C. Abt. The company’s Cambridge location is significant for its associations with an “iconic social sciences research and consulting firm that was forward-thinking for its time, providing child care, a restaurant and recreational facilities for employees.” (Memo, Liza Paden, June 28, 2017).


55 Wheeler Street: pool, looking southwest

Look for more building and structure documentation in future posts!