To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Some months ago my wife and I came to Cambridge after an absence of three years. Just before we departed, driving on Mount Auburn St., we saw the new building by Sert. I stopped the car and looked the building over, not with the eye of a professional architect, but of a person who takes an interest in his surroundings. The building appeared to me a very good one indeed. It was exciting, full of movement, possessed vitality and reflected not the vision of Christopher Wren or Thomas Jefferson but of our own time and our own temper. At that point I did not know the name of the architect or even the name or function served by the building, I stopped two undergraduates and inquired what the building was used for. They said it was the Health Center. Then I was sure the designer had been right in investing the structure with vitality and even exuberance. We left Cambridge glad that Harvard was still alive and showed its vigor in the creative new architecture. For many weeks, while teaching at Yale, I remembered the building as a fine contribution to the scene in Cambridge.
Now I have just read the abusive editorial of Mr. Andrew T. Well, who must be a very young man, but who writes like a crotchety old snapper afflicted with gout or perhaps colic. Apparently Mr. Weil does not like the new building. "I loathe it," he tells us; and he applies the terms "hideous," "cheap," and "sleazy" to the work of the architect. Weil, I suppose there is plenty of room for disagreement in matters of taste (though it is also true that such disagreement can always be expressed in good taste, a point not particularly well exhibited by the editorial).
Still, Mr. Weil goes too far when he suggests that he is the honest babe who proclaims the emperor to be naked. Sert's building, in my estimation, is a fine building, one that spontaneously gains the admiration of many people whose eyes are open. I am grateful he has contributed his powerful talents to the enrichment of the community.
As for Mr. Weil, I would suggest that he try, somehow, to sense the spirit that led to Sert's creation, to look at the building with clear eyes as a man living in this time and this place, and to imagine how he might try to express the vitality, life, and peculiar spirit of our community. Wouldn't the vision come closer to Sert's product? The less creative alternate is to rant and rage endlessly, in darkness and without understanding. Stanley Milgram Assistant Professor of Social Psychology