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Fears over future for Stirling’s Harvard gem

Michael Wilford has told the AJ he is ‘very concerned’ about the future of his and James Stirling’s soon-to-become redundant Sackler Museum at Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The university intends to decant the teaching museum from its 1985 Postmodern home into a new museum complex designed by Renzo Piano. The Sackler building, with its famous grand staircase (see Architectural Review, July 1986) would then be repurposed and renamed. The university played down reports the block could be demolished but said a range of ‘possible future uses [were] being reviewed’.

Wilford, a partner in Stirling/Wilford Partnership, said: ‘I’m very worried about the fate of the building. There is this lack of information and a lack of any attempt to quell the rumours.

‘My clear preference would be to retain the building in its original purpose. The new addition by Renzo Piano will not finish in 2013 and that’s when the Sackler building becomes redundant. Harvard won’t disclose its proposals until the 11th hour. But if I were to go to them [to talk about how the building could be repurposed] it would be admitting their plans were acceptable. It should continue as a teaching museum.’

A spokesperson for Harvard said: ‘The university will repurpose the Sackler building once the museum has relocated to the Quincy Street building. Any new uses will be respectful of the original Stirling design.’

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