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What Will Fill Crate and Barrel Store in Ben Thompson Building at 40 Brattle?

The Crate and Barrel Store in Harvard Square at 40 Brattle Street has closed. The building at 40 Brattle was designed and developed in 1969 by the former Harvard Graduate School of Design chairman of architecture, Benjamin C. Thompson. The building served as the headquarters for his legendary (and now-defunct) home furnishings company, Design Research. Thompson and Design Research are credited for bringing the bold and colorful textile designs of the Finnish company Marimekko to the United States. Crate & Barrel has a long partnership with Marimekko, having featured its highly-popular textile designs on its bedding ensembles.

Thompson's Brattle Street creation was widely praised, receiving the American Institute of Architecture's Twenty-five Year Award in 2003. However, Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Robert D. Campbell, Jr. '58 said that Crate & Barrel "never did a really good job of taking advantage of the power [the building] has."

"It's one of the best buildings of its time in Boston," Campbell said. "Especially at night, if it's been well-organized inside, you just see a lovely display of merchandise. It was originally conceived as a glass display case." (from article by Peter Zhu in The Harvard Crimson.)

Who will fill this space? My vote is for a Cambridge outpost of New York City's bookstore McNally Jackson. It would be wonderful for a truly fine independent bookstore to take root here with a cafe space incorporated. What do you think?

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