Corb in Boston

Le Corbusier designed one building in North America: the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University. Having been rained out of my original Plan A to hike the Appalachian Trail, I decided to see some Boston museums for Plan B. The Carpenter Center just happens to be across the street from Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art.

I was expecting maybe something interesting but dated, like seeing a house built in the 50’s without enough closet space or without enough electrical outlets necessary for today’s kitchen gadgets, but I was pleasantly surprised by Corbu’s building. As you can see, I went a bit ape, photographing the thing from every possible angle. The building is so engaging to look at, it almost photographs itself. I started on the Quincy Street side, then walked up the ramp, frolicked though the building and out the other side and down a ramp, then across the street and back uphill to check out the bicycle parking area.

And I show you photos of one thing I’m sure the Harvard powers-that-be aren’t going to put on their website–the ladies room. It’s the yellow one (on the outside) but on the inside it’s just another rest room. As you can see, Corb could have used a little help with this–maybe from those imaginative Norwegian cruise lines. (All are clickable for larger size.)

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3 Responses to “Corb in Boston”

  1. A.J.P. Crown Says:

    Nij, thanks a lot for these pictures. The Sackler’s by a quite famous architect too, Jim Stirling.

    i’ve never been to the Carpenter Center and I always get so much more out of someone’s own personal shots than I do out of photos in a book. For some reason it seems to give me a much clearer idea of what it’s like in a building. There are a couple of nice details, I thought, though I find concrete can be a depressing material in a wet climate if there’s too much of it. Not very nice toilets, not like the turquoise blue bathroom at the Villa Savoye.

    • Nijma Says:

      I didn’t go in the ground floor at all–there was a security guard who looked a bit startled to see me inside the building, and it occurred to me to wonder whether I fit the usual description of a non-trespasser “students, employees, and their invited guests”, and I suddenly felt shy. Maybe they’re not used to people trying to interact with the building.

    • Nijma Says:

      I didn’t know the Sackler had a famous architect when I was there, but I’m not surprised. If Corb’s building makes you want to expand physically, the Sackler makes you want to expand mentally, if that makes sense.

      I was in a two hour parking spot , or I would have explored the building more. I wanted to see the Islamic collection and the Carpenter center, so I tried to stay focused, but ended up doing a quick walk-through and seeing all the Picassos and Gauguins and Bruegels, oh yes, the Dutch Masters !1!! They seem to have one of everyone, with an awful lot of naked nudes, (which I suppose is representative of an artist’s technique as anything else) or I might have photographed more.


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