Larsen Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA


Roy Edward Larsen Hall was built in 1963-65 for Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and named for a Harvard donor and former chairman of Time Magazine. It is located on a narrow little street called Appian Way, which due to its bulk makes it seem wedged into the site, despite having a parking lot on one side.


The building is entered at grade but has a wide and deep light well that allows use of several floors below street level. The design has been divisive, drawing both accolades and criticism. The brick allows it to blend in with neighboring buildings at Radcliffe but the odd placement and small size of windows, its bulk, and its square form make it somewhat foreboding.


The firm was not a local one. Caudill, Rowlett and Scott were based in Houston firm, although Caudill had graduated from neighboring MIT in 1939. The firm did many buildings at colleges and universities.

IMG_6695They also designed Public School 219 in Flushing, Queens in 1963, originally built as a demonstration school for Queens College and incorporating a large domed space where classes meet in an open, column-free area. Hopefully that building will be a future Mid-Century Mundane post.

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