Rammed earth construction at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

The Goldilocks Plan

After another intense work session on Dec. 3, Mud Hall’s designers roughed out a next-to-final design for the earthen installation at the GSD.

The rammed-earth structure at the corner of Quincy and Cambridge Streets will have three parts. Call it the Goldilocks scheme: There will be something big against the façade of the GSD’s Gund hall, something of medium height in the middle and something short in front.  But the exact shape of the three forms, and their precise location, still needs more refinement.

Anna's design

Even so, that didn’t stop several members of the design team – comprised of Loeb Fellows, GSD students and faculty – from producing evocative sketches. Anna Heringer argued that the mud wall against the Gund Hall facade should be very tall, and showed a drawing of a funnel-like shape that reminded me of Eduardo Souto de Mouro’s Portuguese museum.  Whatever form the back wall takes, architect Chris Calott, also a Loeb Fellow, said the group should embed glass test tubes to hold plants. Another idea that took hold of the group’s imagination came from Alykhan Mohamed (MUP), who suggested each of the mud shapes could be tinted bright shades of ochre and orange. The GSD’s Jane Hutton added that the earth could be color-coded to reflect its origins. She wants to include earth from different Cambridge neighborhoods.

Pin-ups

Not all was bliss, though. A big point of contention was whether Mud Hall should invade the pedestrian corridor between Gund Hall’s building plane and its columns. Loeb Fellow Ian Lockwood, a strong advocate for liveable streets, said the corridor gets a lot of use and should be left clear. The GSD’s Mark Mulligan was reluctant to rule out the possibility of Mud Hall straying into the space, since there is still an eight-foot-wide public  sidewalk on the other side of the columns.

“You’re taking a nondescript space and privatizing it,” Mulligan acknowledged. “The point is to make people slow down.  You’re diverted enough so that you have to notice the thing.” Whatever inconvenience Mud Hall causes, it won’t last long. The installation is temporary and will be taken down by the end of the 2012 Spring semester.
-Inga Saffron, 2012 Loeb Fellow

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