KIRKLAND GALLERY is located at 40 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Please note that the entrance is on Sumner Road and you will need a Harvard Graduate School of Design ID to enter the building. If you would like to visit the gallery and are not a GSD student, please contact us at



To the attentive eye, each movement of the year has its own beauty and in the same filed, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I went out in search of something, but at the time, I was unsure of what I hoped to find. Stumbling upon the remains of a field of recently burnt phragmites in midst of the picturesque Emerald Necklace took me by surprise. This happenstance immediately rendered the site into a place of intrigue and further inquiry. How quickly will this tarnished landscape return to its previous state I wondered?

Week after week, witnessing the site’s re-growth, coinciding with the beginning of spring, impelled my return to capture this fleeting progress. The pace at which the phragmites grew back was quite astonishing, which filled my every visit with new discoveries time after time. One week, I spotted a tiny red bud peaking through the debris announcing its return, a tiny speck of red in a vast sea of brown.

To have witnessed the transformation of this entire site is a privilege, one which nature does not afford as generously as it has, an opportunity that presented itself and I’m lucky enough to have stumbled upon it.  

Julia Xiao


Portraits are generally created to reveal the mood or character of a subject. What does it mean to create the portrait of a building? In defining this portrait I tried to capture the character of a building by describing its surroundings.  Each new location adds a deeper reading of its character. This series highlights the reciprocal relationship between building and landscape, between the Hancock Tower and the Emerald Necklace. The city provides a dynamic lens to view the building, while the building becomes a canvas on which the city of Boston is reflected.

The Hancock tower is a symbol of the city in contemporary times. It is an icon that was built to be visible from many perspectives throughout the city. The feat of engineering that towers over much of the historical city was only allowed to be built through by framing the argument that it would benefit the residents, yet it remains off limits to most. This series explores the relationship the general public has to the building, framing it through the places of public amenity such as the emerald necklace, its peripheral conditions and the public transit system, set up the evolving yet static relationship between the spectator and the figure itself.

Melissa Hurcomb