The campus of Brandeis University in Watham, Massachusetts, is a little-known trove of midcentury modern design. Gerald S. Bernstein’s book, Building A Campus: An Architectural Celebration of Brandeis’s 50th Anniversary (1999), describes how the new school hired Eero Saarinen to create a campus master plan in 1949. Saarinen collaborated with Matthew Nowicki to lay out the school, creating quads with long, flatroofed buildings. Saarinen was working on the General Motors Technical Center outside Detroit at the same time, and one can see some similarities. Initial versions of the Brandeis plan included a circular structure and a striking vertical structure reminiscent of the Tech Center’s water tower and Styling Dome. Saarinen eventually designed four buildings for the campus; one has been demolished and the others altered. What remain are the striking buildings designed by Harrison & Abramovitz, who followed Saarinen as master planners. A map of the campus with dates and architects can be found here.
Alexandra Lange is a critic, journalist and architectural historian based in Brooklyn. She has taught architecture criticism in the Design Criticism Program at the School of Visual Arts and the Urban Design & Architecture Studies Program at New York University. She is a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design for academic year 2013-2014. She is the author of Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012), a primer on how to read and write architecture criticism, as well as the e-book The Dot-Com City: Silicon Valley Urbanism (Strelka Press, 2012), which considers the message of the physical spaces of Facebook, Google, and Apple. She has long been interested in the creation of domestic life, a theme running through Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes (Chronicle Books, 2010), which she co-authored with Jane Thompson, as well as her contributions to Formica Forever (Metropolis Books, 2013) and Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future (Yale University Press, 2006).
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