As the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, Harvard has emerged as one of the world's most well-known universities. Organized into ten academic faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, it is spread across 200 acres and centers on Harvard Yard in Cambridge. Developed along the Charles River adjacent to the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Harvard has the largest financial endowment of any academic institution. This has supported a number of different campus building projects across the university’s history.
Built in 1964 during his tenure as Dean at the Graduate School of Design, Josep Lluís Sert’s Peabody Terrace provides housing for almost 1500 Harvard graduate students and their families. One of several projects Sert designed for Harvard’s campus, it is a manifestation of his vision for the ideal neighborhood. Many elements such as the negotiation of scale, mixed use program, shared open space and design aesthetic were influenced by but represent a departure from earlier modern housing projects.
Peabody Terrace is a prototypical example of a twentieth-century project heralded by the architectural community as an exemplar of progressive modern ideals, but lambasted by neighbors and members of the general public for being unattractive, cold and imposing. This project and others like it highlight the disconnect that can occur between the architectural intelligentsia and the communities in which they build.