SERT, JACKSON AND GOURLEY
Holyoke Center, 1961

Sert’s [Holyoke Center] relates a multitude of urban functions. The health deck (where the patients rest) is clearly articulated on the fourth floor behind the sunscreens, the seminar rooms are articulated at the top of the building and the health service is articulated at the bottom by the same method. But these functions only gain articulation by being just different enough from the background of offices to be perceived. They are not too different, which would destroy the perception. This building then is not just a lesson in subdued prose, but also a very subtle lesson in urban scale, the primary social intention of Sert.

Charles Jencks Modern Movements in Architecture, 1987

Despite its size, the Holyoke Center mixed-use complex of shops, offices, health center, and parking manages to have a human scale. The H-shaped high-rise structure is set back from Mount Auburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue to form small, pleasant pedestrian plazas that connect with the two-story pedestrian way passing through the site and linking the two streets. The facades are organized around a human-scaled module of clear and translucent panels placed according to the needs of individual office occupants. Sun screens, fins, and varied concrete finishes are used to enrich the form. The interiors, also by the architects, emphasize the architecture, with ample exposed concrete structural elements juxtaposed with brightly colored fabrics and specially designed furnishings.

Susan and Michael Southworth AIA Guide to Boston, 1992