SERT, JACKSON AND GOURLEY WITH EDWIN T. STEFFIAN
Boston University School of Law, 1964

The quality of the work at B.U. is particularly outstanding. Sert was faced with very restricted terrain dominated by the Moderne Gothic by Ralph Adams Cram that most Modernists would have thought very unfriendly. Yet Sert succeeded in reorienting the university to the riverfront, and also incorporating decisively new buildings without harming the old ones. Indeed, strikingly Modernist as Sert’s work was... this new work not only gained something from Cram’s work but added to it; the large, quarter-round clerestory structures on the roof of the Law Library, for example, superbly echo the arches of the chapel arcade. The school of Law tower that is the focus of the B.U. work is, moreover, a visual link between the B.U. campus downriver and the Harvard campus on the opposite bank upriver, where three more towers make up Peabody Terrace of 1964, surely Sert’s masterpiece.

Douglass Shand-Tucci Built in Boston, 1978

An early example of Sert’s work in concrete, its crisp sunshades and precast panels have held up well during a period when architectural tastes have wavered between brutality and mirrored invisibility.... The significance of these buildings can be measured in at least three ways: as urban design, as architectural innovation, and as the perpetuation of an ideal. Opportunities for a single firm to design as many interrelated structures in so brief a time are rare. That they be placed so conspicuously, even rarer. By the time the tower was topped off, it was clear that these were not ordinary buildings.

Boston Society of Architects Architecture Boston, 1976

Sert’s Boston University Tower is really the first building to follow the implications laid down by Le Corbusier in 1938. Here the general elements of the surface (the wall, the mullion, the sunscreen) are used in such a way as to articulate the specific functions within (denoting auditorium, office and communal space)…. An articulate surface is always more universal than a blank surface for the mere fact that we can read different meanings into relations, whereas we cannot read them into a blank. Thus as we become more familiar with the Boston University scheme, we slowly learn what the multiple relations may signify.

Charles Jencks Modern Movements in Architecture, 1987