Henry N. Cobb (MArch ’49) was among three University alumni to receive the Harvard Medal during the 2017 commencement exercises. The award, which recognizes extraordinary service to the University, was presented to honorees by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.
Cobb is the first Harvard Graduate School of Design alumnus to receive the Harvard Medal in 30 years, and only the second GSD alumnus to be honored with the award. Edward L. Barnes (MArch ’42) received a 350th Harvard Medal in 1986.
The Harvard Alumni Association released the following on Cobb as part of its 2017 Harvard Medal announcement:
Henry N. Cobb has demonstrated a strong commitment to Harvard as an alumnus, teacher, administrator, and architect. During his term as president of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Association from 1969 to 1971, he also served as an appointed director for the HAA, representing the GSD, and as a member of the GSD visiting committee. From 1980 to 1985, he was studio professor of architecture and urban design and chair of the Department of Architecture, where he continues to teach occasionally as a visiting lecturer and design critic. Currently, he serves as an honorary member of the GSD Campaign Committee.
Cobb designed the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS), completed in 2005 and comprising two buildings flanking Cambridge Street; the renovation of several houses on Sumner Road; and the rehabilitation of an important mid-block open space shared by the University and the adjoining residential community. Dean Mohsen Mostafavi described the CGIS project as “representative of Harry’s contributions to the University and the Harvard community, and of his vision as an architect.”
As a founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners LLP, Cobb has contributed to the work of his firm since its formation in 1955. His practice has embraced a wide variety of building types across North America and around the world, including 200 Clarendon St. (formerly the John Hancock Tower), the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston, and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. His current projects include the Four Seasons Private Residences Boston and the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C.
Born and raised in Boston, Cobb and his wife, Joan Spaulding Cobb, live in New York and are the parents of three daughters, two of whom are graduates of Harvard College. Joan Cobb’s father, Francis T. Spaulding, was dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1940 to 1945.