LE CORBUSIER WITH SERT, JACKSON AND GOURLEY
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 1961-1963

The architect’s commission was for an “inspirational building” that would give impetus and direction to a new, experimental program in visual arts.... The objective is "the perception of quality," and the first eye opener is this extraordinary structure. What the visitor approaching from Quincy Street sees is a curving ramp that invites him into the heart of the five-story building and carries him through it and out again.... Where the open ramp rises and enters at the third floor, the whole building is suddenly revealed through glass walls that turn studios, workshops, and exhibition space into showcases—both of the visual arts and of the architecture itself. The effect is electrifying, for in one sweeping view it becomes apparent that this is indeed a new world.

Ada Louise Huxtable New York Times, August 28, 1965

As a “machine for learning” it seems to work quite well, but because the “plastic” concrete forms are scaled down, [Le Corbusier’s] usually rewarding spatial compositions need charitable interpretation. A slippery ramp leads to nowhere; exterior spaces, appropriate to warmer climates, are rarely habitable... The experience suggests that when a university invites a scholar into its midst, there is ample opportunity for a dialogue and that, when the visitor is an architect... the dialogue should take place before plans are drawn.

Boston Society of Architects Architecture Boston, 1976

The evidence is abundant that the architect conceived the Carpenter Center as a demonstration of his vocabulary in concrete and as a sort of summum of structural principles. In line with this intention, the Quincy Street facade was fitted with a barrage of different fenestration devices, which far outstripped practical justification.... It seems, in other words, that the Carpenter Center, despite its relatively humble size, was an emblem of Le Corbusier’s philosophy—a building fusing his lifelong concerns as painter, sculptor, architect and urbanist.

William J. Curtis Boston: Forty Years of Modern Architecture, 1980