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Biological Laboratory

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1930–1931, Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott. 16 Divinity Ave.
  • Biological Laboratory (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • Alternate shot; exterior detail (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

Built while Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott were designing Georgian Revival work elsewhere at Harvard, the Biological Laboratory incorporated new ideas while still blending into the Harvard campus. The design, which includes banks of factory windows, rejected historicizing ornament, and reflects ideas about functionalism in American architecture. Nevertheless, the laboratory is clad in Harvard brick and enlivened by the carved frieze, cast doors, and rhinoceroses all sculpted by Katherine Ward Lane. The U-shaped Biological Laboratory created a quadrangle, which incorporated the rear facade of Divinity Hall (NY19). In 2003–2004, the courtyard was excavated, and in its place an underground laboratory was constructed, complete with the familiar volleyball court.

Writing Credits

Maureen Meister


What's Nearby


Maureen Meister, "Biological Laboratory", [Cambridge, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 330-330.

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