Architect Sert Defends His Buildings As Making 'A Livelier Environment'

Jose Luis Sert, Dean of the Faculty of Design, last night said that Holyoke Center and the married students dorms provide Harvard with "a livelier environment."

In a speech on "Change in the Urban Environment," Sert stated that the diversity of needs and tastes in an urban setting requires a visual and physical representation, which emphasizes patterns of movement and their links.

Attempting to relate his theories on "variety to please all," and "ground animation" to the Harvard environment, Sert illustrated his views with examples of his work.

Throughout his talk he stressed the unfinished quality of the Harvard and B.U. buildings. With the Holyoke Center we now "only see the first half, so if we are horrified we must wait and see the other half." Speaking about the B.U. complex comprising the student center, library, and law school tower, he hoped people would "defer judgment until the whole mess is there."

On the city-wide scale, Sert's plans for the new Boston expressway system comprise a radial or "walled" system, dividing the city into sectors. In the future he pictures the various functional units of cities divided on the lines of these transportation sectors.


"A Friendly Welcome"

The smaller university scale parallels this scheme for interconnected functional units. The three towers of the married students center "define a space" within which the various buildings, courtyards, and playgrounds form a unit connected by a promenade from Putnam Avenue to the river. The purpose of the promenade is to give the area's other residents "as much of a friendly welcome as possible."

Sert spoke at length about the Holyoke Center. He stressed the importance of the Center as a "modest green bridge" through the business area "that is now called Harvard Square." While some have asserted that the facade is very brazen, Sert called it "sound architecture." Diffused light comes into the offices, with windows of various sizes corresponding to the room sizes.

Throughout his talk, Sert called for more vital and animated expression for buildings, a new vocavulary for city buildings leading to greater variety. There is continual emphasis on movement, animation, and a functional linking of buildings and spaces.