Historical Places and Cool Spaces

The Class of 1959 Chapel. The bell outside of Baker. The Kresge doors. You probably have heard of and seen these landmarks on campus. But do you know the history behind them? In this edition of Up Close, we shine a light on some of the more unique spots on campus, both the well-known and unknown, and provide a little of their backstory. You may never think of the basement of Morgan the same!

08 Aug 2019   Mark Cautela

Harvard Fatigue Laboratory in the Basement of Morgan Hall (1927-1947)

The basement of Morgan Hall used to house the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory, which was used to conduct research of the effects of fatigue, lighting, and temperature on worker productivity.

The laboratory was designed to investigate the physiological, sociological, and psychological impacts of fatigue caused by daily activities that industry workers faced at the time. Founded in 1927, the laboratory was a unique research facility that focused on a holistic approach to physiology, rather than being systems or organ-oriented.

Government funded projects during World War II shifted the research focus to the physiological environment soldiers faced at war. Clothing was tested to understand the heat distribution in the body, to mitigate the impacts of 'trench-foot' and frostbite. Rations were also tested and recommendations of sufficient dietary requirements were sent to the army.

The laboratory was shut down in 1947 after the war, but it helped establish exercise physiology as an academic discipline, with researchers publishing over 300 peer-reviewed research studies during its 20 years of operation. After its closure, researchers that were once employed at the facility formed and lead other exercise laboratories around the country.

Kresge Doors

On Friday June 12, 1953, two new buildings were dedicated at Harvard Business School: Kresge and Aldrich Halls. These buildings were necessary to meet the demands of a rapidly expanding student body and faculty after the Second World War, and were the first major additions to the HBS campus since its initial construction in 1927. As the first central dining facility for the campus, Kresge Hall was designed to be a meeting place for the HBS community. The first floor included a student lounge, club rooms, and a grille room. Dining facilities for faculty and their guests were on the second floor. For over sixty years, Kresge Hall met the needs of a changing HBS community: providing a place for students and faculty to meet, dine, socialize, and exchange ideas as they passed each day through these familiar green doors. When Kresge Hall was closed in 2014 as part of a campus redesign, the doors were moved to the basement of Chao, where they can be seen today as you walk through the tunnels.

The Baker Library | Bloomberg Center Bell

The bell that hangs in the Baker Library bell tower, and the ceremonial bell that stands in front of the library, represent a very special gift that was given to Harvard University in 1930. Charles R. Crane, an American industrialist and diplomat, purchased the original bells and gave them to Harvard to prevent them from being melted down for ammunition as antireligious fervor swept through Stalin’s Russia. The bells—the oldest cast in 1682—originally pealed atop the gate tower of the Danilov Monastery and comprise one of a few sets that survived Stalin’s reign. Bells are known as “singing icons” in the Russian Orthodox Church, calling the people to prayer and serving as daily reminders of one’s faith. One bell was installed in the cupola above Baker Library and the other 17 were installed in Lowell Hall on Harvard University’s campus. The bell that was installed on HBS’s campus was returned in 2007 and was reinstalled in the Moscow monastery. The other 17 were returned one year later.

The replacement bell in the Baker Library tower is a replica, and a ceremonial bell—installed at the time of the School’s centennial anniversary—was placed in front of the building. Both were cast by the Vera foundry in southwestern Russia. The ceremonial bell features images of both Baker Library and the Danilov Monastery and was funded by the Link of Times, a foundation that scours the world for lost Russian artifacts and helps return them.

Written Analysis of Cases (WAC) Slot

From 1914 to 1993, several various written assignments were required of MBA students. The longest running and most storied of these is the Written Analysis of Cases, or WAC, assignment. It comprised analyses of each case discussed in the first-year MBA classrooms. This process was fully supported by the faculty. Professor Thomas J.C. Raymond said, in 1954, “When schooling is over and the graduate has embarked on his business career, no one will hand them a case. Instead, the graduate will have to go out and in effect put together their own case before they can use the skills learned at HBS.” WAC report writing was designed to train students to do just that.

The slot where the WACs were deposited at the west end of Baker Library is memorialized today with a bronze plaque. MBA students would line up and cheer each other on as they ran from their dorms to the slot to deposit their WACs before their dreaded deadlines.

Baker Library Stacks and Grille

This grille was a prominent architectural feature in the Baker Library lobby before a full renovation in 2003. Designed by the firm McKim, Mead & White, creators of Harvard’s famous Johnston Gate, the grille was intended to be both aesthetically pleasing and practical. Anyone entering the building would see much of the library’s collections through the grille. In a closed-stack library, as Baker was at the time, making the books visible was a novel design approach. The imposing height was also created to discourage students from climbing over the grille after the library closed for the evening. Funds for the interpretive exhibition of this artifact were given by Jed Bullard (MBA 1975), a longtime supporter of and dedicated volunteer for HBS.

Post 15, Old New York Stock Exchange

From 1871 onward, stocks within the New York Stock Exchange trading floor were assigned permanent locations so that brokers could quickly locate the specialist in each stock. These first “trading posts” were simply upright poles topped by signs, with some chairs at their bases. During the extraordinary “bull” market of the 1920s, the New York Stock Exchange began reassessing its capacity to handle ever-increasing amounts of business and moved from the pole system to 17 new horseshoe-shaped trading posts between 1929 and 1932. Each post was solidly crafted, with brass frames; oak counters; and leather-covered, push-down seats, and countertops. The smooth lines of the brass and slight flaring foot tails hinted at the prevailing Art Deco fashion, while the pigeonholed interior oak cabinets harkened back to the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts style. The brass superstructure of each post held more than 100 price indicators, which were changed throughout the day to indicate the most recent sale price of each stock traded there. All of the horseshoe posts were replaced in 1981. Recognizing the significance of the posts as important cultural artifacts, HBS acquired Post 15 for display in the basement of Baker Library.

The Class of 1959 Chapel

Designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates and completed in 1992, the Class of 1959 Chapel provides a place for quiet contemplation. Used for non-denominational services, ceremonies, and concerts, the chapel is identified by its cylindrical, copper-clad main building and adjacent glass pyramid. Visitors pass through an enclosed water garden before entering a simply furnished main sanctuary, which is illuminated, in part, by daylight refracted through ceiling-mounted prisms. Outside the chapel, the names of the members of the Class of 1959 are inscribed on a “sun clock” tower designed by German artist Karl Schlamminger. In 2011, the building achieved LEED Gold Certification for a two-year project that significantly reduced its energy and water consumption.

The Class of 1959 Chapel was a gift to the School from members of Dean John H. McArthur’s HBS graduating class. The Class of 1959 committed its 25th and 30th Reunion fund-raising campaigns to the chapel project. In 1997, a chamber organ designed by Taylor & Boody Organbuilders was added to the chapel, a gift from Albert H. Gordon (MBA 1925) and George F. Baker III (MBA 1964). McArthur, who served as Dean from 1980 to 1995, believed a chapel on campus would enhance the sense that HBS is a true community, an ideal embraced by early HBS leaders. The chapel was one of three new buildings and 16 major renovation projects undertaken during Dean McArthur’s tenure.

Chao Bakery Window

Ever wonder how our bakery cranks out so many delicious treats every day? Would you like to watch the culinary magic as it happens? You actually can if you go to the basement of Chao and take a peek in the window that leads into the bakery. If you do, you’ll see the Restaurant Associates (RA) team hard at work to keep our students and staff well fed. When our operation is in full tilt and campus population is at peak, the bakery produces on average daily:

  • 500 Muffins
  • 600 Croissants
  • 2,500 Cookies
  • 300 Danishes
  • 700 Pastries (which includes cakes and can be as many as 1,400 in a day including catering)

And 1,200 plated desserts per week! This is just one of the many food services that RA provides for the HBS community and the window gives you an inside look at how it all comes together.

The Attic in Aldrich Hall

Did you know there is a large attic space in Aldrich Hall used for exciting modeling on campus? Its day job is to house a number of critical HVAC and mechanical systems, but over the years, the space has often been used to mock up various projects taking place across campus. Given the vast space, it allows HBS Operations and partners across campus to test out major elements of construction projects to help bring things to life before major decisions are made. These photos are an example of the space mocked up to mimic the outline of the Tata Hall participant bedroom.


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