Design Research Building

Design Research Building

Benjamin Thompson and Associates, 1969

Harleston Parker Medal, 1970

The home furnishings and design firm called Design Research, or DR, was founded by Benjamin Thompson and his wife Jane. It started a national love affair with modern design products for the home and body; imitators are found in every city today. They were convinced that Americans would buy the best new industrial design from Scandinavia and Italy; they chose the products themselves, and designed all the display fixtures and fittings.

The minimal concrete slab and column structure is wrapped with butt-jointed glass making the building into an urban scale display case. Bays push in and out on the outside to animate the streetscape, while staggered floor levels make the march from bottom to top an adventure rather than a chore. People, merchandise, and the surrounding cityscape are woven into one dynamic composition that expressed Cambridge’s mid-century confidence in modernism – and shopping.

Note the DR building is just one of six in this complex. They all share design features, scale, and geometry, and relate to a common courtyard, but each is separate.