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After Harvard, Bond Builds Reputation as Architect

Grad oversees redesign of Ground Zero

In the past four years, many different blueprints have been discussed for the memorial site at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, where the World Trade Center once stood.

The site will be targeted to people with a multitude of needs, from those who lost their families in the Sept. 11 attacks to visitors in the distant future, who might be learning about the attacks for the first time.

At last, the current vision for the site as a memorial has been selected, after much heated debate in New York. Now, to transform that idea into reality requires vast technical knowledge and the collaboration of various experts in architecture.

J. Max Bond, Jr. ’55, a renowned architect based in New York, is one of those experts who is working to make the plans feasible.

This work is the most recent in a series of projects for Bond which have tackled a number of sensitive issues­­—including his previous work developing the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and the crypt for Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Ga.

While an undergraduate at Harvard, Bond was certain of his career path­—he enrolled at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) after graduation—and says that he had some positive experiences with professors who had engaged him in his course material.

But his time at Harvard was not entirely rosy­. As one of 11 black undergraduates, he coped with an atmosphere of tension about racial issues, and the occasional severe manifestation of prejudice.

A MIXED EXPERIENCE

Bond says that he found his academic experience at Harvard “very interesting and challenging.”

In particular, he says that he enjoyed a class in comparative literature on 19th-century Russian playwrights, as well as his science and math courses.

But Bond always had architecture on his mind. Theodore H. Evans—a member of the class of 1955 who lived on Bond’s floor in Stoughton Hall—recalls, “He was very focused on his career as an architect, I remember that...Also he was a very good bridge player.” He adds that the two used to take trips to his parents’ house on Cape Cod.

But while Bond was comfortable in the classroom and with a select group of friends, he says that the overall social environment at Harvard sometimes left him less at ease.

Bond says that the black students at Harvard in the 1950s were a closely-knit group socially and politically.

The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision was forthcoming while he and his friends were studying for exams during his junior year.

“I can remember that some of us were distracted,” he says.

He says that overt prejudice was not the major issue for him­—though he felt sporadic outbursts of discrimination and he says that the atmosphere was not fully inclusive.

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