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Harvard Square House

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Most of Harvard Square is covered by an historic overlay district that does not allow the removal of buildings without significant just justification.  The house that once stood on this site was failing in so many ways, and had little or no historic fabric remaining, and thus we sought approval to remove it.  This historic commission granted this approval but with the proviso that the replacement structure be larger a contextual response that picked up on clues from the surrounding historic structures.  We overlaid a series of contemporary elements to focus on today’s design voice and not that of the 18th century.  The result is a balance of historic references with minimalist design trajectories.  While the front of the house has clear references, the mini tower helps turn the corner toward the rear of the house were historic references tend to drop away and reduced expressions start to unfold.


The interior is intentionally minimal and monochromatic to allow limited visual interference.  There is an intimacy of scale here yet the light filled whiteness brings about an expansive quality not commonly offered in such an urban setting.  The farm house invites visitors to its humble roots, but offers them a much wider experience once they are inside.  This coalescence of minimalism and historicity is the craft of architecture that is something other than building.  In essence it is a successful design marriage that respects our past yet looks toward our future at the same time.

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