More Than Mere Practicality

Elizabeth Bacon Eager, PhD candidate and Bryan Norwood, PhD candidate, curators

Embracing the rise of second-wave modernism in mid-century America, Harvard transformed its campus and its design curriculum in the midst of what John Coolidge (the Fogg Museum’s director from 1948-1972) called “an unprecedented moment for visual arts in America.”  From modern art exhibitions held in the Graduate School of Design’s (GSD) Robinson Hall to modern campus expansions such as Holyoke Center and the establishment of a new urban design curriculum, the University was a hotbed of design activity, encouraging a wide range of collaborations and experimentation across the arts. This exhibition focuses on the expanded concerns of university planning and design school pedagogy at mid-century, which went beyond functionalist pragmatics to address the emotional and spiritual impact of architectural and urban form.   Through case studies of three Harvard buildings: The Architects Collaborative’s Harkness Graduate Center (1948-50), Josep Lluís Sert’s Holyoke Center (1958-66), and Minoru Yamasaki’s William James Hall (1961-65), the exhibition explores a dynamic and evolving relationship between art and architecture that was central to this new, more humanist functionalism.

This exhibition is made possible by the Graham Gund Exhibition Fund
Held jointly by the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Art Museums

Related Exhibition
Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals
November 16, 2014—July 26, 2015
Harvard Art Museums