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TAC The Architects Collaborative Inc. Collection

Founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1945 by eight architects—Norman C. Fletcher, Jean B. Fletcher, John C. “Chip” Harkness, Sarah P. Harness, Robert S. McMillan, Louis A. McMillen, Benjamin C. Thompson, and Walter Gropius—The Architects Collaborative (TAC) was one of the most influential architecture firms of the twentieth century. Unlike other team-based firms that emerged during the postwar era, TAC was exceptional in its fully collaborative practice and rejection of a hierarchical organizational structure. TAC was incorporated in 1963 and, by the 1970s, became the largest architectural firm in the United States with more than 380 employees. Over a period of fifty years, the firm designed an array of projects including schools, universities, private residences, hospitals, office buildings, and cultural centers in the United States and abroad. TAC’s rapid growth, especially overseas, combined with volatile economic and political circumstances during the 1980s and early 1990s ultimately led to the firm’s bankruptcy in 1995.

TAC’s liquidation led to the auction of the firm’s archives. A group of Boston-area institutions—Harvard University, Boston Architectural Center, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—formed a consortium and raised the funds necessary to purchase the archives. Today, the TAC’s slide library is housed at the Frances Loeb Library at Harvard; the TAC book collection at Boston Architectural College (formerly Boston Architectural Center); and TAC architectural drawings, photographs, project binders, microfilm, and office files at the MIT Museum.

The MIT Museum is currently in the process of cataloging the TAC collection. The museum houses approximately 2,600 individually catalogued architectural drawings and 5,000 tubes containing additional drawings, plans, and project documentation. Also included are TAC’s microfilm, some models, project binders, photographs, presentation boards, and office documents. Collections span the entire fifty years of the firm’s existence.

Some of TAC’s major early projects represented in the MIT Museum’s collection include: Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina (1946); Harvard Graduate Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1949); Six Moon Hill and Five Fields residences, Lexington, Massachusetts (1948/9 and 1952); Gropiusstadt, Berlin, Germany (1954), The United States Embassy, Athens, Greece (1956); John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Office Building, Boston, Massachusetts (1961); Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, Germany (1964); Rosenthal China Factory, Selb Germany (1967); and Rosenthal Glass Factory, Amberg, Germany (1967).

Title: TAC The Architects Collaborative Inc. Collection

Creators: TAC The Architects Collaborative Inc., Norman C. Fletcher, Jean B. Fletcher, John C. “Chip” Harkness, Sarah P. Harness, Robert S. McMillan, Louis A. McMillen, Benjamin C. Thompson, and Walter Gropius, and others

Dates: 1945 – 1995

Extent: approximately 5000 tubes of drawings, 550 linear feet of archives, 120 presentation boards, 892 reels of microfilm, 196 project binders

Language: English, German, Arabic

Repository: MIT Museum

Reference Code: TAC (1996.074). Also includes 2009.015, 2016.001, 2019.030, 2022.023, 2022.030, 2023.015, 2023.023

Access: access restricted during processing

Credit: TAC The Architects Collaborative Inc. Collection, MIT Museum