Leverett Towers and Leverett House Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

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The Leverett Towers complex of 1959-60 is Harvard’s first high rise residential structure and occupies a prominent location just off the intersection of Memorial Drive and Dewolfe Street. The towers are coed dorms and also include some offices and classrooms.

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The architects were Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott (previously Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott), H. H. Richardson’s successor firm and surprising purveyors of mid-century architecture at Harvard and across the New England area. The adjacent low-rise house library received an award in 1964 from the AIA for innovative design. The main entrance to the Leverett Towers yard is at ground level underneath an elevated single floor library.

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Across from the library entry door is a wall relief by Mirko also dating from 1960. Mirko Basaldella was a prominent Italian sculptor and a founder of Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, which is located in the famed Le Corbusier-designed Carpenter Center.  Unfortunately as seen in the photograph, the relief is not treated with the greatest respect these days.

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2 Responses to Leverett Towers and Leverett House Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

  1. Pingback: New Quincy House, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA | Mid-Century Mundane

  2. David J Gill says:

    Leverett House was designed by Jean Paul Carlhian, long time design principal at Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott (the firm’s name post 1952…it was Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott before that date + two other permutations.) I had the opportunity to talk with him on numerous occasions when I worked at that firm in the early 90s. At the timee was wrapping up his final project (a US Courthouse) and then, after that, he kept his office and came in frequently. I liked Leverett house very much and did chat with him about it. I wish I could remember all the particulars of the project as he explained it to me, because it was a fascinating sort of aesthetic scheme with color and lighting of both interior and exterior, conceived with subtlety and complexity which he described with a tone of knowing absurdity. He would have agreed that the three buildings indulged in too many novelties; he thought Mather house was a better building. But I think Leverett does have a quality of substance and permanence unlike much mid-century architecture.
    And I’ve just learned, while looking up a few things to write this, that he died only last year at the age of 92. I’ll always remember his heartfelt remarks at the end a brief speech he gave at an awards banquet about emigrating to America after the war and how overwhelmed he was by the sight of the Statue of Liberty as his ship entered New York harbour. Everyone in the room was choked-up. He was very real!

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