Forty-five members of the University community and the art world have signed a letter congratulating Harvard on its new Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.
John P. Coolidge '25, professor of fine arts and director of the Fogg Museum, who wrote and circulated the letter, said it was intended "to answer the petty criticisms, the gripes, the bellyaching that has arisen over the design of this building."
The $1,500,000 Center is the first building in the United States designed by the French architect Le Corbusier. Its multicolored glass walls, elongated pedestrian ramp, and austere interior have caused a great deal of comment.
"The Corporation naturally hears from everyone who has a complaint to make," said Coolidge. "Those of us who think the Center is a really distinguished building wanted them to know that we like it."
The letter was addressed to the Corporation and read "We wish to congratulate you on the new Visual Arts Center. In selecting Le Corbusier you chose not a safe and familiar figure but the man you considered the most distinguished designer anywhere. You supported him without hesitation. As a result, Harvard has been rewarded with a daring and distinguished building. The leadership you have shown makes us all proud."
Signees included 15 full professors (nine of them professors of fine arts), eight other Faculty members, and nine officials of the administration, including David Rockefeller '36, an overseer.
Reuben Brower, Master of Adams House, said he signed the letter because "it seemed a good idea to congratulate the Corporation for having the courage and initiative to create such an unusual and handsome building. A lot of people, especially outside Harvard, must be a bit shocked by the Center, and I think the Corporation should be told that a lot of us like it."
"As compared to other buildings at Harvard, the Center certainly represents an advance in originality of design," said Wassily W. Leontief, Henry Lea Professor of Economics. "I signed the letter not only to commend this particular building, but to praise the University for its imagination."
One signee, who asked that his name not be used, was blunter. "Harvard's usual approach to architecture is incredibly conservative, and when they break out of it, it's usually to build a real monstrosity. Surely a building as original and as lovely as this one is an occasion for rejoicing and congratulation."