ArchitectureBoston

The Design Research Installation

Posted in Vol 13 No 1 by bsaab on February 19, 2010

Design Research photo by Peter Vanderwarker

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48 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts

It is 1969, and I am finishing a B. Arch. degree at University of California, Berkeley.

When not in the studios, the action is at Sproul Plaza: People’s Park and Cody’s Books are the hot spots. My architecture hero is Christopher Alexander. The fashion on the street runs to Frye boots, tie-dye dresses, and headbands. I have a draft of the Whole Earth Catalogue.

I come back to Boston to visit a friend. I walk into Harvard Square, and there I see Ben Thompson’s glass-walled D/R building. It is sleek, transparent, and colorful. It is like a Corbu building on pilotis, but with more style.

Coming out are women in Marimekko dresses. They look as if they are wearing the architecture. They look impossibly modern. They threaten Berkeley and all it stands for, and this just will not do. In an act of supreme defiance, I take off my Frye boots and go buy some Earth Shoes.

It is 2009. I walk into Harvard Square. And there they are again: D/R, Marimekko, the colors, the people. It’s a marvelous temporary installation, put together by a volunteer team led by Jane Thompson, with the blessings of Bill Poorvu, the building owner. I’m going to go get my Frye boots out of the closet.

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