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  4. United States
  5. Le Corbusier
  6. 1963
  7. AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier

AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier

AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier
AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier

AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier +21

  • Architects

  • Location

    Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Architect

    Le Corbusier
  • References

    Galinksy, GreatBuildings
  • Project Year

    1963

From the architect. The first and only building in the United States designed by the 20th Century master architect Le Corbusier sits among some of the oldest buildings that date back to before the United States was organized.  

Completed in 1963, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts is located on Harvard University's campus.  Designed in conjunction with Chilean architect Guillermo Jullian de la Fuentes and Josep Lluis Sert - dean of Harvard's GSD at the time, the Carpenter Center stands out among the traditional architectural styles of Harvard Yard as a combination of Le Corbusier's earlier modernist works.

Designed to be home to Harvard's visual arts, the Carpenter Center houses large open studio spaces for students to work and showcase their art. 

In addition to being a place for art, the center holds the largest collection of 35mm films in the New England region often holding screenings of independent, international, and silent films. For Corbusier, the Carpenter Center was meant to be the synthesis of the arts where architecture would join with painting, sculpture, photography, and film.

plan_04
plan_04

Unlike the buildings of Harvard Yard and even those of Corbusier's earlier works, the Carpenter Center takes on a less than traditional approach to the design and organization of the interior spaces. Rather the Carpenter Center is a mix of Corbusier's earlier works with the typical beton-brut concrete, angled brise soleils that were used in Chandigarh, and ondulatoires found in La Tourette were implemented into the centers facade system.  

plan_06
plan_06

From first glance, the Carpenter Center appears to be an inverted version of Villa Savoye embodying the Five Points of Architecture on the exterior of the building rather than within like Villa Savoye.

Similar to Villa Savoye, Corbusier highlights an architectural promenade that runs through the center of the building that connects the interior studios, galleries, and screening rooms to the public spaces within the building, as well as to the campus.  Walking along the centralized ramp, there is a slow ascent through the buildings levels that has a degree of reveal  allowing the passerby to peer into the spaces through the separation between the floor plates and the ramp.

Within the Carpenter Center, Corbusier maintains large open floor plates supported by his iconic pilotis, which allow for students to have open studio environments, in addition to allowing for more flexible configurations when showcasing students work, or holding film screenings. However, as with some of his earlier projects where Corbusier imposes curvilinear wall sections to define circulation or the space itself, Corbusier uses the curvilinear wall system to define the interior volume's boundary as a way in which to accentuate the architectural promenade throughout the building, as well as seamlessly linking the interior spaces through a cyclical spatial organization.

Le Corbusier's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts is an intensification of his earlier projects that not only incorporate architectural elements from previous projects, but - possibly with the encouragement of Fuentes and Sert - seems to advance Corbusier's architectural language by testing its limits as to what it could become, rather than just merely accepting its prior successes. 

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section

The Carpenter Center exemplifies that push and advancement in Corbusier's work that would influence the modernist aesthetic and future styles.

Unfortunately, Le Corbusier was never able to see the completed building because of his failing health. However, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts continues to maintain the largest 35mm film collection in the New England region, as well as housing Harvard's historic film archives.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Andrew Kroll. "AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier" 13 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/119384/ad-classics-carpenter-center-for-the-visual-arts-le-corbusier/>
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28 Comments

SKPai · December 22, 2013

Looks like the design works better in a tropical climate. Who needs solar screens in Cambridge! The ailing master was keen on leaving a memorial in the US, not much interested in whether the building serves its users well.

Thomas T · January 05, 2015 01:04 AM

Direct sunlight in a studio is bad.

Haskoning Architects · February 14, 2012

One of Boston&#39s architectural jewels http://t.co/jWb93iO1 the only building in the U.S. by #Corbusier #architecture #Cambridge

Bruno Bellomo · July 11, 2011

AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier http://t.co/wlyCNoj vía @archdaily

Bruno Bellomo · July 11, 2011

AD Classics: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts / Le Corbusier http://t.co/wlyCNoj vía @archdaily

Mark · March 16, 2011

one storey, true or otherwise, is that ship buildiers from Nova Scotai were brought in to make the concrete formwork. Only they were too good at their trade. Corbusier was expecting a rougher finish to the concrete, which may have aged better

Fred · March 16, 2011

no

Tania M · March 15, 2011

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drejer · March 15, 2011

... can we all agree that raw concrete ages poorly?

daqb design · March 14, 2011

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URBAIN trop URBAIN · March 14, 2011

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Ralph Martin · March 14, 2011

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Noelia Manzano · March 14, 2011

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ELS · March 14, 2011

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Anulfo · March 14, 2011

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Travel Writer · March 14, 2011

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Bocetos Digitales · March 14, 2011

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Jake · March 14, 2011

These photos are terrible.

R. Girardin · March 14, 2011 04:16 PM

yep, too bad

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