The architects of Cambridge

Freeman: Blow-Up on Arrow St.

DON FREEMAN '50 started last year with an idea very similar to Cambridge Seven's, "a desire to reverse the process of restrictive expertise," as he calls it. But it is not as simple as that. Freeman's highly diverse and integrated firm is trying to create something different, something that even he has difficulty defining.

Freeman's firms (there are two for tax purposes, he says) are Freeman, IHardenbergh Associates and Cambridge Design Group. Like Freeman, all the other principals except Tom. Hardenbergh teach at Harvard: Len Gittle-man is a lecturer on Photography in the Carpenter Center (he teaches the highly popular Vis Stud 140); Robert G. Gardner '48, presently making movies in Africa, is the director of the Film Study Center in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology; Derek Lamb is a lecture on Light and Communication at the VAC; and Eric Martin '58 is a lecturer on Visual Studies. Freeman himself as an assistint professor of Design.

The group's newly renovated offices on Arrow Street look like something out of Blow Up. The main studio with its vaulted 20-foot ceiling is painted white. It is both cluttered and spacious, with cut-out magazine pictures, photographs of African natives, and brightly-colored design sketches all over the walls. Hanging above the doorway is a huge blueprint of the battleship U.S.S. Massachusetts, which Freeman and his comrades are turning into a World War II Memorial.

A firm full of graphic designers, architects, photographers, and film makers seems like a hopelessly heterogeneous bunch. Freeman is not quite sure where the firm is going, but, like The Seven, his concerns are wide-range communications and planning for the complete environment.

As for the architect himself: "He just doesn't know who he is. He's a funny guy who never knows how much things cost. He's suffering from the nineteenth century Jeffersonian thing--a guy with a book of friezes he's drawn on the Grand Tour. That's got to change."