Araldo Cossutta

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Araldo Cossutta
Photograph showing a man pointing upwards to something behind the photographer. The man is elderly, and is flanked by three younger people. There is a large, multistory building behind the people.
Araldo Cossutta in Chicago in 2010. The building is part of the University Gardens Apartments.
Araldo Alfred Cossutta

(1925-01-11)January 11, 1925
DiedFebruary 24, 2017(2017-02-24) (aged 92)
NationalityAmerican (naturalized 1951)
Alma materUniversity of Belgrade 1946
École des Beaux-Arts 1951
Harvard University 1952
PracticeMichael Hare & Assoc. 1952–1955
I. M. Pei & Partners 1955–1973
Cossutta & Associates 1973–2017
BuildingsChristian Science Center, Boston
Tour du Crédit Lyonnais, Lyon

Araldo Cossutta (January 11, 1925 – February 24, 2017) was an architect who worked primarily in the United States.[1][2] From 1956 to 1973 he worked at the firm I. M. Pei & Partners. I. M. Pei has been among the most honored architects in the world.[3] Cossutta was Pei's associate and ultimately his partner in the first phase of Pei's career. He was responsible for some of the firm's best-known designs from that era, including three that have received "landmark" designations in recent years. In 1973 he and Vincent Ponte left Pei's firm to form Cossutta & Ponte, which ultimately became Cossutta and Associates. The new firm designed the Credit Lyonnais Tower in Lyon, France (1977) and the Tower at Cityplace (1988) in Dallas, Texas, among other commissions.[4]

Early career[edit]

The University Gardens Apartments (1961) were one of the first commissions executed by Araldo Cossutta for Pei & Associates, and were part of an urban renewal plan for Hyde Park, a Chicago neighborhood and the location of the University of Chicago. The buildings are now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Cossutta was born on the island of Krk, which was then in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (and subsequently in Yugoslavia and then Croatia). He was educated at the University of Belgrade, the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1949 Cossutta worked in the atelier (the studio) of Le Corbusier, who "arguably had more of an influence on the form of the modern world than any other architect."[5] He received a master's degree from Harvard in 1952. From 1952 to 1955, he worked for Michael Hare and Associates. In 1955, Pei founded his own architectural firm, I. M. Pei and Associates. Like Cossutta, Pei had been profoundly influenced by Le Corbusier; Pei has written that the "two days with Le Corbusier, or 'Corbu' as we used to call him, were probably the most important days in my architectural education."[6] Cossutta became an associate in Pei's new firm shortly after its creation.[1][7] Cossutta's designs for Pei's firm include the Denver Hilton Hotel (1960),[8][9] University Gardens Apartments in Chicago, Illinois (1961),[1][10] the north and south buildings of the L'Enfant Plaza complex in Washington, D.C. (1968),[11][12][13] the Third Church of Christ, Scientist in Washington, D.C. (1971), and the Christian Science Center in Boston, Massachusetts (1973).

Brutalism and the Christian Science Center[edit]

Christian Science Center (1973), Boston, Massachusetts. The reflecting pool and the Colonnade Building (right) date from the 1970s; the domed Mother Church (center left) dates from 1894 to 1906.[14]

Architecture critics include Cossuta's buildings from the 1960s and 1970s as examples of the Brutalist architecture that flowered in that period. The name itself refers to the typical use of raw concrete (béton brut in French). One of the seminal buildings for the New Brutalism was Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation (1952) in Marseille, France. Benjamin Flowers writes that, "In appearance, New Brutalism is characterized often, but not exclusively, by rugged and dramatic concrete surfaces and monumental sculptural forms."[15] Among the most recognized of Cossutta's designs is the Christian Science Center (1973) in Boston.[16] The Center incorporated the original Mother Church buildings (1894-1906), the eight story Christian Science Publishing House (1934), and three newly constructed buildings. The five buildings were incorporated into a large plaza with a 670-foot (200 m) long reflecting pool. The new buildings were the Colonnade Building with its sculpted, raw concrete colonnade, a 28-story office building, and the quarter-round Sunday School Building with its 500-seat auditorium.[17]

Architecture critics have noted that Cossutta's designs reflect Le Corbusier's buildings in Chandigarh, India (1953–1963).[18][19]

The plaza of the Christian Science Center was declared an historic landmark by the City of Boston in 2011.[20] The report noted that the center is "a singular achievement of civic design in the Modernist period. The Pei/Cossutta plan made the Christian Science Center one of the most monumental – and successful – public spaces in Boston."[14] Michael Kubo and his colleagues have written that this Brutalist design "shows how, with proper care and stewardship, these buildings can be wonderful participants in an active urban setting. At their best, they are powerful monuments of an ethic inspired by, but critical of, its Modernist past — an ethic that sought authenticity for its time and embraced the future wholeheartedly."[21] The Christian Science Center has been changed fairly little since its construction around 1970, and is an example of a large public space that has been maintained by a private organization. Significant modifications to the design have been proposed by the Church.[22][23]

Third Church of Christ, Scientist[edit]

Plaza entrance to the Third Church of Christ, Scientist (Washington, 1971; demolished 2014)

Cossutta's design for the Third Church of Christ, Scientist (Washington, D. C., 1971) incorporates an octagonal church building with a raw concrete facade, an eight-story office building, and the plaza lying between the buildings. The design is also considered Brutalist, and has been controversial since the building's construction. While the building won an "Award for Excellence in Architecture" from the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, the Washington Post architecture critic Wolf von Eckardt was quite negative about the bunker-like exterior of the church and its disruption of the 19th Century scale of this section of Washington, which is close to the White House.[24] The design and the early criticism of it were the subjects of an entire chapter in a 1988 book about Washington's architecture by Sue Kohler and Jeffrey Carson. These authors admired the auditorium, which they characterized as "exceptionally dynamic and powerful", and wrote that Cossutta's arrangement of the church, a paired office building constructed at the same time, and the plaza was "a tour de force".[25]

About 1990 the congregation of the Church began to seek a buyer for the property, which they felt had become unsuitable. The probable consequence would have been demolition of the church building. In an effort to save the building, in 1991 two independent groups joined to file an application for historic landmark status for the church.[4] This application was ultimately approved by a unanimous vote sixteen years later in 2007. An application to demolish the building to permit redevelopment of the property was then denied in 2008.[26] The conflict between the congregation's and the Christian Science Church's right to control the property, and the buildings' status as an important exemplar of brutalist ecclesiastical architecture, continued and attracted national attention.[15][27][28][29][30][31]

A demolition permit was finally granted in 2009 despite the church building's landmark status. The granting of the permit acknowledged that the building had become a threat to the congregation's vitality, having become oversized compared to the congregation's membership and expensive to maintain.[32] The structure was razed in 2014;[33] Araldo Cossutta was philosophical about its destruction, saying “My work should not be fossilized, but when you replace it, make sure the replacement is an even greater gift.”[34]


The Denver Hilton Hotel, for which Cossutta and Pei were the lead designers, received an American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Honor Award in 1961, among other honors.[8] In 1968, the firm I. M. Pei & Partners received the AIA Architecture Firm Award; Cossutta was then a partner in the firm, and had been with the firm essentially since its founding in 1955.[35] In 1974 Cossutta was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and in 2010 he was elected as a foreign member of the French Académie d'architecture.[36] The Christian Science Center (1973) won the 1975 Harleston Parker Medal. Three of Cossuta's designs, all executed while he was with I. M. Pei's firm, have been granted landmark status: University Gardens Apartments (1961) was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007,[10] the Third Church of Christ, Scientist was listed as an historic landmark in the District of Columbia in 2008,[28] and the plaza of the Christian Science Center was designated an historic landmark by the City of Boston in 2011.[20]

In 1994, Cossutta endowed the Araldo A. Cossutta Annual Prize for Design Excellence at Harvard University.[37][38]

Gallery of projects[edit]

The application for historic landmark status for Third Church of Christ, Scientist, includes a list of Cossutta's principal design projects; the list was based on one furnished to the application's authors by Cossutta & Associates.[4] This gallery shows photographs of some of the completed projects.


  1. ^ a b c d Gane, John F., ed. (1970). "Araldo Albert Cossutta" (PDF). American Architects Directory (Third ed.). R.R. Bowker LLC. p. 181. ISBN 9780835202817. OCLC 13080703.
  2. ^ "Araldo Cossutta: Obituary". The New York Times. February 28, 2017.
  3. ^ Wiseman, Carter (2001). I.M. Pei: A Profile in American Architecture. H. N. Abrams. p. 323. ISBN 0-8109-3477-9. Pei has won every award of any consequence in his art.
  4. ^ a b c Committee of 100 on the Federal City; D. C. Preservation League (January 28, 1991). "Application for Historic Landmark: Third Church of Christ. Scientist and Christian Science Monitor Building" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-23. Page 12 of this application contains a list of Cossutta's prominent design projects as obtained from Cossutta's firm, Cossutta & Associates.
  5. ^ Rose, Steve (July 16, 2008). "The many contradictions of Le Corbusier". The Guardian. He's arguably had more of an influence on the form of the modern world than any other architect - you could even argue there was no modern world before Le Corbusier - but stop someone on the street and ask them to name one of his buildings and you're unlikely to get a correct answer.
  6. ^ von Boehm, Gero (2000). Conversations with I.M. Pei: Light is the Key. Munich: Prestel. ISBN 3-7913-2176-5.
  7. ^ Wiseman, Carter (2001). I.M. Pei: A Profile in American Architecture. H.N. Abrams. pp. 62–64. ISBN 0-8109-3477-9.
  8. ^ a b "Courthouse Square". Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Archived from the original on 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2014-09-11. As of 2014, the Denver Hilton building has become the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.
  9. ^ Gallagher, Dennis Joseph (2006). Getting to Know Denver: Five Fabulous Walking Tours. Francis J. Pierson (photography). Charlotte Square Press. p. 148. ISBN 9780914449201. The Hilton was a close collaboration between I. M. Pei and chief designer Araldo Cossutta, who produced one of the better International Style buildings west of the Mississippi. The influence of the famed architect, Le Corbusier, is immediately apparent in the deep-set windows and articulate grill work on the lower floors. ... Few modern buildings have achieved the dramatic intensity that this soaring palisade affords.
  10. ^ a b The University Apartments have been listed with the National Register of Historic Places, but without indicating Cossutta's role. I. M. Pei submitted a letter noting the oversight, and requesting that it be rectified. See p. 59 of "National Register of Historic Places - Registration form for University Apartments" (PDF). January 11, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2013. Mr Pei wishes you to know that he did indeed design this project but with the design assistance of his former partner, Mr. Araldo Cossutta. He hopes that the Register will mention his name as well as Mr. Pei's.
  11. ^ Moeller Jr., G. Martin (2012). Feldblyum, Boris (ed.). AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, Part 3. JHU Press. p. 51. ISBN 9781421402703. L'Enfant Plaza. 1968 — I. M. Pei & Partners (Araldo Cossutta, partner in charge of design for office buildings). After noting the credits for the individual structures in L'Enfant Plaza, Moeller describes L'Enfant Plaza as a "hopelessly sterile precinct and, ironically, a blatant violation of L'Enfant's plan in its disregard for the street pattern that he so thoughtfully devised." Referring to the buildings by Cossutta and Koubek, he writes "For what it's worth, the individual buildings in L'Enfant Plaza, though bombastic, are generally well composed and constructed."
  12. ^ a b Kousoulas, Claudia D.; Kousoulas, George W. (1995). Contemporary Architecture in Washington, D.C. John Wiley & Sons. p. 212. ISBN 047114374-X. Their articulated forms and textured concrete possess a warmth found in few other brutalist buildings. In contrast with the east and west buildings, by Vlastimil Koubek, the refinement of their detail and color is evident.
  13. ^ "In memoriam: former partner Araldo A. Cossutta". Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Retrieved 2017-08-04. This memorial page uses a single photograph of the Christian Science Center in Boston.
  14. ^ a b The Colonnade Building is now known as 101 Belvedere. See "Christian Science Center Complex: Boston Landmarks Commission Study Report" (PDF). January 25, 2011. p. 56. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-04-22. The Modernist-era Christian Science Plaza is a major example of the firm of I.M. Pei and Partners and of the lead design architect, Araldo Cossutta, and a singular achievement of civic design in the Modernist period. The Pei/Cossutta plan made the Christian Science Center one of the most monumental – and successful – public spaces in Boston.
  15. ^ a b Flowers, Benjamin (2011). "Brutalism". The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. 1. Oxford University. pp. 356–357. ISBN 9780195335798.
  16. ^ Araldo Cossutta was the lead designer for the Center; see "Christian Science Center". Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Retrieved 2014-09-13.
  17. ^ The new buildings were the 26-story office building (177 Huntington Avenue), the Sunday School Building (now known as Reflection Hall), and the Colonnade Building (now known by its address, which is 101 Belvedere). See "Plaza architecture and grounds". Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist. Archived from the original on 2014-09-02. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  18. ^ Jencks, Charles (2002). The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Post-modernism. Yale University Press. p. 16. ISBN 9780300095135. I. M. PEI: Christian Science Church Center, Boston, 1973. Very hard edge Le Corbusier - in fact, Chandigarh done with precision concrete. Pei is erroneously listed as the sole architect.
  19. ^ Whiffen, Marcus (1983). American Architecture: 1860-1976. MIT Press. p. 421. ISBN 9780262730709. Only Pei is credited for the Christian Science Center in this book.
  20. ^ a b Irons, Meghan E. (March 26, 2011). "Church plaza designated a landmark". The Boston Globe.
  21. ^ Kubo, Michael; Pasnik, Mark; Grimley, Chris (April 2010). "Tough Love: In Defense of Brutalism". Architect. American Institute of Architects (AIA). In the original version of this article, Cossutta's role in designing the Christian Science Center went unmentioned; the error was later corrected.
  22. ^ Galef, Julia (August 3, 2010). "Boston Reflects on Pei's Brutalist Plaza". The Architect's Newspaper.
  23. ^ Hala, Katherine (November 17, 2010). "In Praise of the Hard: I.M. Pei's Christian Science Church Complex Threatened". Architect Magazine. It is hardscape at its hardest. It is this very quality that makes the ensemble so great It is heroic, speaking of the ideals of order and the belief in something that surpasses the quotidian. Whether or not you are sympathetic to the Church’s beliefs, and I am not, you cannot help but be impressed by its willingness and ability to create something that is so "other," so beyond urban reason, that it offers a clear alternative to the messiness and confusion of daily life. Reprinting of an essay from Sacred Destinations. Cossutta's role goes unmentioned.
  24. ^ von Eckardt, Wolf (November 28, 1970). "New Church Design: Rude, Brutal, Military, Uncivilized" (PDF). Washington Post. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-09-15.
  25. ^ Kohler, Sue A.; Carson, Jeffrey R. (1988). "Third Church of Christ, Scientist". Sixteenth Street Architecture. 2. Washington: Commission of Fine Arts. pp. 106–119. OCLC 5847373. In addition, three features, sensitive in comparison to the basic design, were emphasized as foil to the realities of concrete. The features included the belfry which projects toward Sixteenth Street and required a zoning variance, the herringbone brick paving, and the plaza lawn with its towering, carefully asymmetrical trees. The Third Church of Christ, Scientist is a tour de force.
  26. ^ "Staff Report for Third Church of Christ, Scientist and the Christian Science Monitor Building" (PDF). Historic Preservation Review Board. November 1, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-09.
  27. ^ Freund, Charles Paul (December 18, 2007). "A Brutalist Bargain". The American Spectator. Archived from the original on 2009-09-04. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  28. ^ a b "Cossutta Church Saved". Architect Magazine. January 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-02-03.
  29. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley (August 21, 2008). "Future Of Brutalist-Designed Church Not Concrete". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  30. ^ Abruzzese, Sarah (August 7, 2008). "Church Sues Over Landmark Status". The New York Times.
  31. ^ Albrecht, Laurel Estelle (August 17, 2012). "Cossutta, Araldo A.. Third Church of Christ, Scientist, and Christian Science Monitor Building". International Committee for the Documentation and Conservations of Buildings, Sites, and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement - US Chapter. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  32. ^ "Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Washington, D.C.: Application for Demolition of Church Building" (PDF). Government of the District of Columbia. May 12, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  33. ^ Maurer, Pablo (March 4, 2014). "Photos: The End Is Nigh For D.C.'s Brutalist Church". Washington City Paper. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  34. ^ Murphy, Amanda (March 13, 2014). "After long fight, Washington's 'ugliest church' meets the wrecking ball". Religion News Service.
  35. ^ "Architecture Firm Award Recipients". American Institute of Architects.
  36. ^ "Installation d'un nouveau membre titulaire étranger" [Induction of a new foreign member] (in French). Académie d’Architecture. November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2014. In addition to his studies at the French École des Beaux-Arts and his work with Le Corbusier, Cossutta's Tour du Crédit Lyonnais is well-known in France, and has been nicknamed le crayon (the pencil). These were all noted in a discussion of his induction; see "Un atlas historique de Paris, Rencontre avec Laurent Théry, grand prix de l'urbanisme" (in French). il a été brièvement un collaborateur de Le Corbusier (1949), collaborateur (1956) puis associé de Ieoh Ming Pei (1963-1973) avant de s'établir à son compte, construisant notamment en France la fameuse tour du Crédit Lyonnais à la Part-Dieu, à Lyon, 142 mètres de haut, et coiffée d'une pyramide de verre qui lui donne un peu la forme d'un crayon (1972-1977).
  37. ^ "Araldo A. Cossutta Annual Prize for Design Excellence". Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26. Retrieved 2014-08-24.
  38. ^ "Araldo A. Cossutta Annual Prize for Design Excellence". Harvard University.
  39. ^ Shrock lists Cossutta and Pei as "collaborating partners" for the Green Center at M. I. T.. See Shrock, Robert Rakes (1982). Geology at MIT 1865-1965: A History of the First Hundred Years of Geology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT Press. p. 166. ISBN 9780262192118.
  40. ^ Cossutta's former firm, now known as Pei, Cobb, Freed, & Partners, credits only Pei as the "lead designer" for the Green Center at MIT on its web pages. See "Cecil and Ida Green Center for Earth Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology". Pei, Cobb, Freed, & Partners. Archived from the original on 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2014-09-23.
  41. ^ Butterfield, Fox (July 10, 1982). "Building Boom Expected to Double Boston Hotel Rooms by '84". The New York Times. The Marriott Long Wharf, which opened in April, is so far the architectural showpiece of the city's new generation of hotels. It was designed by Araldo Cossutta, a former partner of I.M. Pei.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Thelma Cossutta, 93". Vineyard Gazette. September 24, 2013. Archived from the original on 2015-11-10. Araldo Cossutta married Thelma Bouchet (June 1, 1920 - September 14, 2013) in the late 1940s. Bouchet was an American living in France, and they met while Cossutta was studying and working there. They moved to Boston when Cossutta started his graduate studies at Harvard. The Cossuttas had two children, Louis Cossutta and Renée Cossutta. The couple divorced in the late 1970s.
  • "Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel - I. M. Pei Tower" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-05. An appreciation, including photographs, published by the present owners of the Denver Hilton building. Cossutta's participation in its design and construction is not noted.
  • Moeller Jr., G. Martin (2012). "Third Church of Christ, Scientist/Christian Science Monitor Building". AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, Part 3. Boris Feldblyum (editor). JHU Press. p. 164. ISBN 9781421402703. The Christian Science Church has a long track record as a patron of progressive architecture ... The church's world headquarters in Boston is a fascinating enclave incorporating several modern buildings by the firm I. M. Pei & Partners, which also designed this much more modest church and office complex. ... In recent years, this modest little complex became the center of a vigorous preservation debate.
  • Roach, Tina (2010). "13/06: 2010 RMHF Reunion Conference, Chicago". Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Blog post incorporating a photograph of Cossutta explaining the University Park Apartments in Chicago.