Smith College Graduate School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Women), M.Arch., 1940
Awards and Honors
Boston Society of Architects Prize, 1941
American Association of School Administrators Award for Fox Lane Middle School, 1967
American Institute of Architects Honor Award for C. Thurston Chase Learning Center, Eaglebrook School, 1967
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Bates College, 1974
Maine State Commission on the Arts and Humanities Award for Ladd Library, Bates College, 1974
American Institute of Architects and American Library Association Award for Ladd Library, Bates College, 1976
Fellow, American Institute of Architects, 1979
American School and University Louis I. Kahn Citation for Olin Arts Center, Bates College, 1987
Boston Society of Architects Award of Honor, 1991
Bank for “Buildings for 194X,” special issue of Architectural Forum (May 1943); with John C. Harkness
Second-prize entry, Smith College Dormitory competition sponsored by Smith College, The Museum of Modern Art and Progressive Architecture–Pencil Points, Northampton, Mass., 1945; with John C. Harkness
Harkness House (34 Moon Hill Road), Six Moon Hill, Lexington, Mass., 1947–48 and addition, 1958; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness and John C. Harkness, partners-in-charge
Fox Lane Middle School, Bedford, N.Y., 1960–66; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness and John C. Harkness, partners-in-charge
C. Thurston Chase Learning Center, Eaglebrook School, Deerfield, Mass., 1962–67; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness, partner-in-charge
Worcester Art Museum Addition, Worcester, Mass., 1968–70; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness and Norman C. Fletcher, partners-in-charge
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Penn., 1967–71; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness and H. Morse Payne, partners-in-charge
Ladd Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Me., 1970–73; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness and John C. Harkness, partners-in-charge
Merrill Gymnasium, Bates College, Lewiston, 1976–80; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness and Dave Sheffield, partners-in-charge
Olin Arts Center, Bates College, Lewiston, 1978–86; The Architects Collaborative: Sarah P. Harkness, partner-in-charge
Tennessee Valley Authority Headquarters, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1978–83; The Architects Collaborative, Van der Ryn Calthorpe and Partners, Caudill Rowlett Scott: Sarah P. Harkness and Peter Morton, partners-in-charge for TAC
Office of Eleanor Raymond, Boston, 1938–39
Marc Peter and Hugh A. Stubbins, Boston, 1939–40
Pillsbury and Vaughan, Boston, 1940–41, Partner, with Louisa Loring Vaughan
Artek in Boston, Boston, 1942–43, Partner, with Louisa Loring Vaughan
Dan Cooper, Inc., New York City, 1941–43
The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Architecture and Design, New York City, 1943–44
Practice with John C. Harkness, New York City and Boston, 1943–45, Partner
The Architects Collaborative (TAC), Partner, Cambridge, Mass., 1945–95
American Institute of Architects, Board of Directors, 1972–75 (first woman member); New England Regional Director, 1974–76 (first woman regional director); Vice President, 1978 (first woman); American Institute of Architects Fellow, 1979
Boston Society of Architects, Board of Directors, 1979–80, President, 1985
Location of Last Office
The Architects Collaborative
46 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.
Sarah Harkness (1914–2013) was one of seven founding members of The Architects Collaborative (TAC), the team-based practice established with Walter Gropius in 1945 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harkness served for over fifty years with the firm, and was the supervising partner for single-family residences, middle schools, university libraries and cultural centers, and energy-conscious workplaces. She was a significant advocate for TAC’s innovative approach to collaborative design and a prescient voice for family-friendly work arrangements, inclusive design, and sustainability.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Sarah (“Sally”) Pillsbury was born on July 8, 1914 in Swampscott, Massachusetts, the daughter of Helen Farrington Watters and Samuel Hale Pillsbury, a lawyer. She attended the Winsor School in Boston, a girls’ preparatory school where her friends included Mary (“Molly”) Duncan Weed, who later married and practiced with the designer Eliot Noyes.11Interview with Sarah Harkness conducted by Perry Neubauer, November 3, 2006. I am grateful to Neubauer for providing the transcript of this and other interviews with then-surviving founders of TAC. Mary Gaye, a painter who taught at the Winsor School, was also a professor at the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Women (then known as the Smith College School of Architecture), and it was through this connection that both Pillsbury and Duncan Weed entered the Cambridge School.22Ibid. On the history of the Cambridge School, see Doris Cole, “The Education of Women Architects: A History of the Cambridge School,” Architecture Plus 1, no. 11 (December 1973): 30–35, 78–79. Pillsbury later claimed not to have had a previous interest in architecture, but recalled her determination “to do something that was real . . . [which] was not what my parents or anybody else expected,” along with her feeling that the Cambridge School “seemed to have a lot of things that I liked,” including “drawing and thinking and doing things.”33Interview with Sarah Harkness conducted by Perry Neubauer, November 3, 2006.
In her third year as a student at the Cambridge School, Pillsbury’s parents purchased a plot of land in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and suggested that she design a family house in association with an experienced senior architect. On the recommendation of Henry Atherton Frost, the School’s co-founder, Pillsbury brought the project to Eleanor Raymond, a former design partner of Frost’s and an early graduate of the Cambridge School who had designed the School’s modern offices and drafting wing (1928).44Ibid. See also Doris Cole, “Eleanor Raymond,” in this series. On Raymond and the Cambridge School, see Kevin D. Murphy, “The Vernacular Moment: Eleanor Raymond, Walter Gropius, and New England Modernism between the Wars,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 70, no. 3 (September 2011): 308–29.
Pillsbury spent a year working on the project in Raymond’s office; it was subsequently published in Architectural Forum under Raymond’s name with Pillsbury listed as an associate.55“House in Duxbury, Mass: Eleanor Raymond, Architect, Sarah Pillsbury, Associate,” Architectural Forum 75 (December 1941): 402–03. Designed as a summer residence, the house’s living room featured floor-to-ceiling doors that allowed one wall to be fully opened to the exterior, a striking design element that Pillsbury later developed even more dramatically in her own house at Six Moon Hill.66Harkness graduated from the Cambridge School in 1939, after which she worked for a year in the office of Marc Peter and Hugh Stubbins in Boston. Sarah Harkness, curriculum vitae, in The Architects Collaborative, “Architects’ Roster Questionnaire,” May 14, 1954, n.p., AIA Historical Directory of American Architects, The American Institute of Architects Archives. I am grateful to Nancy Hadley for digitizing the AIA member files for Harkness and Jean Bodman Fletcher.
In November 1940, Pillsbury and Louisa Loring Vaughan, a fellow graduate of the Cambridge School, established Pillsbury and Vaughan. It seems to have been the first showroom for modern furnishings and interiors in Boston.77Later stores for modern furnishings in the Boston area included Rapson-Inc., established in 1950 by Mary and Ralph Rapson while Ralph Rapson was a professor at MIT, and Design Research, established in 1953 in Cambridge by Benjamin Thompson while he was a partner at TAC. Located at 687 Boylston Street, Pillsbury and Vaughan was the exclusive distributor in the Boston area for Artek-Pascoe, the New York supplier for Artek. This Finnish design company was co-founded by Marie Gullichsen, Nils-Gustave and Aino Hal, and Alvar Aalto.88Pillsbury and Vaughan participated in Alvar Aalto’s course on housing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall of 1940, an involvement that led to Aalto’s later design of Baker Dormitory at MIT, opened in 1949. I am grateful to Caroline Constant, Professor Emerita of Architecture at the University of Michigan, for sharing her research on early commercial enterprises for modern design in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. The firm also organized exhibitions on modern design in Boston, including “Design for Living,” exhibited at the Junior League of Boston in December 1940.99“Art Exhibitions,” The Christian Science Monitor, December 23, 1940, 14. The partners moved their showroom to 169 Newbury Street and changed the name to Artek in Boston in 1942, before the store closed the following year amidst the privations of the war.1010Materials on Pillsbury and Vaughan are held in The Louisa Vaughan Conrad Collection, 1913–2003, Special Collections, Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.
By this time, Pillsbury had met architect John Cheeseman (“Chip”) Harkness, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The couple were married in 1941, and both worked in New York City during the early years of World War II. It may have been Pillsbury Harkness’s interest in furniture design that led her to work from 1941 to 1943 in the office of interior designer George Daniel (“Dan”) Cooper, known in these years for developing the PAKTO system of demountable, flat-packed wooden furniture.1111The Architects Collaborative, “Architects’ Roster Questionnaire,”,n.p.
She spent 1943–44 as designer of traveling exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where she was involved with the wartime exhibition Airways to Peace, designed by Herbert Bayer.1212Ibid. I am grateful to Enrique Ramirez for directing me to installation photographs of the Airways to Peace exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in which Harkness appears. See The Museum of Modern Art, Exhibition History. Meanwhile, Chip Harkness joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), where he met Norman C. Fletcher, the husband of Jean Bodman Fletcher, all of whom came together to form The Architects Collaborative (TAC) soon after the end of the war.1313See Michael Kubo, “Jean Bodman Fletcher,” in this series. Chip Harkness also spent time in the offices of Kahn and Jacobs and then under Morris Ketchum at Harrison, Fouilhoux & Abramovitz. Chip Harkness was drafted in the fall of 1942, serving first as an ambulance driver for the American Field Service and later as a designer in Isernia, Italy, where he developed a plan for the reconstruction of the town after Allied bombing in September 1943.1414Chip Harkness’s plan for Isernia is detailed in “Planning With You,” Architectural Forum 82 (March 1945): 107–111.
The Harknesses developed their independent practice as a partnership, publishing speculative designs and entering national architectural competitions during the building hiatus caused by war. The couple contributed to a special 1943 issue of Architectural Forum in place of Ketchum, who was too busy to participate. The issue, dedicated to “New Buildings for 194X,” also featured speculative projects by such luminaries as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Charles Eames. The Harknesses’ design was for a two-story bank; their intent was to make financial institutions “more human,” and they wrote that they hoped “to accentuate this trend by the openness of the design and the generally informal treatment.”1515John C. Harkness and Sarah Harkness, “Bank,” Architectural Forum 78 (May 1943): 86.
With the end of the war, the Harknesses returned to the Boston area and worked out of Sarah’s mother’s attic in Milton, Massachusetts on their entry for the competition to design dormitories for Smith College. The competition was co-sponsored by MoMA and Pencil Points–Progressive Architecture. The Harknesses’ design earned second place, while their friends, the Fletchers, won the competition in collaboration with Benjamin Thompson. The jury commended the Harknesses’ entry, arranged in three clusters of student rooms oriented to face south, and stated that the submission was “particularly admired for its easy-going domestic quality, and for its excellent feeling for the site.”1616 “A Competition to Select an Architect for a Proposed Dormitory Group for Smith College,” Progressive Architecture–Pencil Points 27 (April 1946): 53. This sweep of the top two prizes provided the impetus (and the early financing) for the two couples and Thompson to form an office together.
It was the Harknesses’ connection to Walter Gropius, then chair of the architecture department at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, that spurred the eminent senior practitioner to join their efforts. Gropius had invited Chip, his former student, to serve as a teaching assistant for his master’s classes within a few weeks of the Fletchers’ November 1945 letter to the Harknesses proposing the formation of a joint office, along with Thompson and Louis A. McMillen. At the Harknesses’ suggestion, the Fletchers quickly wrote to Gropius to describe their shared ideas for a collaborative firm, asking him to join them as well. They traveled that month to meet him, and the Harknesses in Boston, and The Architects Collaborative began operations in January 1946. Harkness later described this coming together of TAC’s founding partners idealistically as “the outcome of several coincidences amongst people . . . who each had a dream in mind of a group practice.”1717Sarah Harkness, text on TAC’s working methods, quoted in “Genetrix: Personal Contributions to American Architecture,” Architectural Review 121 (May 1957): 370.
Looking back at TAC’s origins a decade later, Sarah Harkness recalled that “The first year consisted of very few jobs, but a great deal of discussion.”1818Ibid. However, she credited this year with the invention of the basic framework of the firm’s collaborative method for the decades to come: the system of job captains and the weekly partners’ meeting, originally held every Thursday at noon. As Harkness outlined in 1957:
Every job has to go through a meeting before the design is frozen. The job captain, together with those who have been assisting him, brings drawings, models, and pertinent facts and figures to the conference room. A really “hot” design meeting often produces the best architecture. In the end, the changes are those of the job captain himself, because he has final authority.1919Ibid.
The relationship between job captains (or project managers, as they were later known) and the weekly meeting was thus meant to strike a balance between individual and collective authority that all the partners saw as essential to a democratic, rather than bureaucratic, form of collectivity. Harkness explained years later that, “the concept was not to establish design by committee but to have an active exchange of ideas on work at various stages of development.”2020Sarah Harkness, “The Architects Collaborative,” in Encyclopedia of Architecture: Design, Engineering & Construction, ed. Joseph A. Wilkes and Robert T. Packard, vol. 5 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1990), 46. Furthermore, by dedicating the weekly meetings to both design and business (including a system whereby partners served as rotating “mailmen” to sort through each week’s correspondence), the group ensured that there was no split between creative and managerial decision-making within the office.
In TAC’s early years, the Harknesses lived together with the Fletchers in a three-story house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an arrangement that allowed a flexible schedule of family and work for the women in particular. Sharing domestic facilities as well as a housecleaner and babysitter allowed the two women to rotate domestic and professional responsibilities at TAC, with Fletcher working in the office in the mornings and Harkness in the afternoon.2121Mary Otis Stevens, “Struggle for Place: Women in Architecture: 1920–60,” in Women in American Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective, ed. Susana Torre (New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1977), 96. A 1947 article in the Boston Globe, titled “No Woman Should Stay Home,” highlighted their arrangement, in which “cooperation is the keynote of a successful home life and careers of two young Cambridge women.”2222Barbara Brooks Walker, “No Woman Should Stay Home: Two Cambridge Wives Solve Career Problem,” The Boston Sunday Globe, March 2, 1947, A9. A second article from the same year also noted that “their budding success stems securely from the completely cooperative nature of their enterprise.”2323Helen Henley, “Two Girls Share as Equal Partners in Modern Architects’ Collaborative,” The Christian Science Monitor, January 13, 1947, 10. Throughout her career, Harkness advocated for the benefits of such “flexible scheduling,” crediting this with her ability to work while raising children in TAC’s first two decades. She acknowledged, however, that this flexibility, which was available to her and Fletcher as founding partners, was not equally offered to later employees.2424 “Quiet Waves in the Sexual Storm,” Building Design & Construction 52 (September 1974): 52; Stevens, “Struggle for Place,” 96; Rhonda Rasmussen and Diane Arnold, “Sarah P. Harkness Interview,” Avenu 13 (June 1984): n .
TAC’s cooperative ethos in its early years was exemplified by Six Moon Hill, a community of detached single-family homes in Lexington, Massachusetts. Planned and designed after 1947 by a consortium of twelve families, it included all of the TAC founders except for Gropius (whose house in Lincoln, designed with Marcel Breuer, was completed in 1938). The group formed a non-profit corporation to purchase twenty acres of rocky outcrop and oak woods, developing a long cul-de-sac road through the center of the parcel around which twelve half-acre house lots were priced equally and apportioned to the members by lottery. Families owning a lot each held two votes within the corporation and were required to build within two years, using the services of an architect resident of the development. Community approval by the corporation was required for the modification or sale of any of the properties.2525Ann Grady and Nancy Seasholes, “Six Moon Hill,” tour notes for Tour of Six Moon Hill, A Community Designed by The Architects Collaborative in 1948, Saturday, May 18, 1985, 1. The development quickly grew to thirty families. Four acres of land were set aside for the design of shared recreation areas and eventually a community swimming pool.
TAC’s partners cited their shared ambition “to develop a community of ‘more-than-routine interest’” at Six Moon Hill, based on the belief “that cooperative principles were important” and the “strong conviction at TAC that ideal communities go far toward preventing social conflict.”2626Sarah P. Harkness and Walter Gropius, ed., The Architects Collaborative 1945–1965 (Teufen: Arthur Niggli, 1966), 41. On the successes and failures of TAC’s social ambitions at Six Moon Hill and other contemporary residential communities developed by the firm, see Amanda Kolson Hurley, “The Rise of the Radical Suburbs,” Architect 108 (April 2019): 55–64. Among the “considerable cooperative action” achieved within the development was a community of informal co-parenting in which child care was shared among households, a situation well suited to the large number of children among the partners. There were eleven TAC children at Six Moon Hill when it was founded: seven for the Harknesses, six for the Fletchers, and five for the Thompsons.2727By 1954 there were eighty-five children under the age of eleven among twenty-eight households at Six Moon Hill. “The Good Life, Inc.,” Vogue 123 (February 1, 1954): 149. Regular community meetings reflected the balance of individual and collective decision-making, modeled on the same principles that had guided the formation of TAC itself. Contemporary articles noted this intended symmetry between domestic and professional settings, praising the partners for the way in which “each of their houses has an individual character although all are unmistakably TAC products—a double paradox since each TAC job is the result of one design team’s effort within the group framework.”2828 “The Individual House: Practice of The Architects Collaborative,” Architectural Record 107 (May 1950): 132.
Beyond her involvement in planning the development of the site, Sarah Harkness was design partner for the Mann, Kipp, and Stewart houses. While each was tailored around the needs and preferences of its inhabitants, all of the houses were sited to respond to the rugged topography and employed design details, creating a sense of visual coherence across the whole. These features included flat or shed roofs with overhangs, standard spacing of roof joists trimmed with white fascia boards and copper edges, similar exterior finishes in vertical redwood or cypress siding, and large fixed-plate glass or casement windows set in wood sub-frames without trim or flashing.2929The Architects Collaborative 1945–1965, 41.
The Harknesses designed their own house, at 34 Six Moon Hill, as a single-story space with kitchen, dining, and playroom centered around a skylit, multi-purpose living area with a fully openable exterior wall mounted from above on garage-door hardware. The radical continuity between indoors and outdoors permitted by this exterior wall recalled the living area of Sarah Harkness’s earlier family house in Duxbury, Massachusetts, designed under the supervision of Eleanor Raymond a decade earlier. Like the domed “bubble” skylights—another element used in many of the Six Moon Hill houses—the pivoting wall was made of plexiglass, following research conducted by TAC in 1947 for Röhm and Haas Company of Philadelphia on peacetime uses for acrylic technology developed for aircraft canopies and turrets during World War II. The Harknesses later expanded their Six Moon Hill house to include a two-story wing, set at right angles to the original volume, to accommodate their growing family.
As TAC grew in size to become the largest architect-only firm (without engineers) in the U.S., Harkness’s name appeared only sporadically as design partner for specific projects in the 1950s and ’60s. However, she maintained a strong presence as a humanistic voice within TAC’s work culture, advocating for the founders’ original spirit of cooperation as the office expanded and developed an increasingly corporate administrative structure. Harkness was alone among the younger partners in maintaining a significant public voice in describing the firm’s collaborative ethos, both prior to and after Gropius’s death in 1969. It was Harkness who contributed an account of TAC’s working methods to a special issue of Architectural Review on U.S. architects in 1957, and who wrote a detailed history of the firm for the Encyclopedia of Architecture, Design, Engineering & Construction in 1987.3030Harkness, “Genetrix,” 370; Harkness, “The Architects Collaborative,” 45–52. Gropius and Harkness together edited the firm’s only major monograph, The Architects Collaborative 1945–1965 (1966). The volume featured introductory texts in which the partners confirmed their continued faith in the collaborative model after twenty years of practice. In her contribution, titled “Collaboration,” Harkness reiterated her belief that the individual and the team were mutually dependent constructs, arguing that “The essence of collaboration is the strength of the individual. When collaboration is operating as it should, a good idea will be carried by conviction, recognized by others without loss of their own prestige.”3131Sarah Harkness, “Collaboration,” in The Architects Collaborative 1945–1965, 26.
In TAC’s middle and later years, Harkness eschewed involvement with the firm’s larger-scale corporate commissions, choosing to take on smaller, community-oriented projects “because they are more human and more fun.”3232 “Quiet Waves in the Sexual Storm,” 52. One such project for which Harkness was partner-in-charge, the Fox Lane Middle School in Bedford, New York (1960–66, with Chip Harkness), grew in part from developments in the theory of childhood education in the early 1960s.
In September 1961, the Bedford Public Schools convened a conference to discuss plans for a new middle school including the views of Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner—whose landmark book, Process of Education, had been published the year before—and urbanist and author Jane Jacobs, along with members of TAC.3333Judith Murphy, “A Middle School Keyed To ‘A New Number: The Number One’,” in Middle Schools: Profiles of Significant Schools (New York: Educational Facilities Laboratories, Inc., 1965), 28. Conceived as a smaller campus within a larger site that included a high school, the brief called for a building and program with a high degree of flexibility, “suited to the particular requirements of children in the ‘middle’ of their public school life.”3434Ibid. Harkness designed a series of classroom wings and shared facilities, connected by passageways and sited along the contours of topography to create more intimate gathering spaces between buildings around a central open area. Three academic “houses” surrounded an octagonal volume for the arts containing an auditorium, library, and creative workshops for students.
Harkness continued her interest in educational facilities in her design for the C. Thurston Chase Learning Center at the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts (1962–67), based on an intensive study by TAC in conjunction with the Stanford Research Institute and the Educational Facilities Laboratories of the Ford Foundation.3535 “Learning Center Focuses on Multi-Use Library,” Architectural Record 139 (February 1966): 164. Organized like the Fox Lane school as a cluster of interlinked classroom wings centered around a multi-use block with a library, the project received an AIA Honor Award in 1967, praised by the jury as “intimate, understated and gracious, [and] thoroughly appropriate to the age group served.”3636 “The 1967 Honor Awards Report of the Jury.” AIA Journal 47 (June 1967): 62.
Harkness’s later design for the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium at Dickinson College (1967–71, with H. Morse Payne) bore similarities to the auditorium designed for the Fox Lane school, both in its hexagonal volume and in the flexibility of demountable seating that allowed it to be rearranged in proscenium or theater-in-the-round configurations.
Harkness’s most sustained engagement with an institutional client came at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where in 1970 she led a feasibility study that culminated in her design for Ladd Library (1970–73, with Chip Harkness), and later to additional commissions for the campus including Merrill Gymnasium (1976–80, with Dave Sheffield) and the Olin Arts Center (1978–86). Ladd Library grew from the College’s need to expand its existing facilities to accommodate 420,000 volumes and 700 readers, with additional room to grow in the future. TAC chose to locate the new library adjacent to the original Coram Library, built in 1900, demolishing the above-ground levels of an unsympathetic earlier addition from 1948 to form a new entry plaza over a two-level basement connecting the old and new buildings. Harkness exploited level differences across the site through a system of dramatically sloped roofs to create a building that rose in section from one story at plaza level to five stories facing to the rear, deferring in scale to the original library while presenting a more monumental volume to the College’s central quadrangle. The pitched roofs and clerestory lighting were used to create variation in the scale and shape of interior spaces in section as well as to provide a natural orientation to library users.3737See “A general library for a rural campus: the Bates College Library in Lewiston, Maine by The Architects Collaborative.” Architectural Record 147 (August 1974): 104–108; “Quiet Waves in the Sexual Storm,” 52–55.
In her later writing and research, Harkness was an early advocate of design for the disabled—or what she termed the “able-disabled”—co-authoring Building without Barriers for the Disabled with James N. Groom Jr. in 1970, twenty years prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).3838Rasmussen and Arnold, “Sarah P. Harkness Interview,” n . She was equally timely in calling for a renewed attention to solar energy and sustainability following the spike in crude oil prices after 1973, publishing articles on these issues beginning in the early 1980s.3939Sarah Harkness, “The Solar Section: Starting Point of Passive Design.” AIA Journal 70 (January 1981): 68–71; Harkness and Leslie Horst, ed., Sustainable Design for Two Maine Islands (Boston: Boston Architectural Center, 1985). Harkness developed her interest in daylighting and energy-conscious design as partner-in-charge for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee (1978–83, with Peter Morton), designed by TAC with Van der Ryn Calthorpe and Partners and Caudill Rowlett Scott. Over one million square feet of office space was organized in two pairs of parallel bars with long elevations facing north-south, joined by atria designed to control heating and cooling loads and direct sunlight via operable roof louvers to a complex system of light scoops on each floor.4040Scott Matthews and Peter Calthorpe, “Daylight as a Central Determinant of Design,” AIA Journal 68 (September 1979): 86–93. Harkness also pursued her interests in education and environmental design through her professional service as chair of the AIA’s Commission on Building Design (1972) and the Building Types Working Groups Task Force (1973), and as a member of the Boston Society of Architects’ Education Committee (1973) and its Environmental Awareness Program with the Cambridge Public School System. She served as a member of the AIA Board of Directors (1972–75) and as Vice President of the AIA (1978), the first woman to hold both positions. She was elected a fellow of the AIA in 1979.
Sarah Harkness’s commitment to community and the cooperative spirit outlasted The Architects Collaborative, which went bankrupt in 1995. She was the last of the founding TAC partners to live at Six Moon Hill, continuing to reside in the house that she and Chip Harkness designed together, until her death in May 2013.