The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study sponsors a biennial competition to highlight the potential of public art, and the visual arts in general, to contribute to intellectual conversations at Harvard and beyond.

Open to all students enrolled in a Harvard degree program, the Public Art Competition provides them with a unique opportunity to design and build a site-specific installation for prominent display in the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Garden in Radcliffe Yard.  

Bold, provocative designs are encouraged, and a jury of distinguished Harvard faculty assess the student submissions on the basis of creativity, and construction and budget feasibility.

2015–2016 Winner

Photo by Kevin Grady, Radcliffe Staff PhotographerPhoto by Kevin Grady, Radcliffe Staff Photographer

Congratulations to Harvard Graduate School of Design student Christina Geros MAUD, MLA '15 for creating the winning design, Latent (e)Scapes, in the second Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition. The new installation was unveiled on May 29, 2015, in the Wallach Garden at Radcliffe Yard.

2013–2014 Winner

Saturate the Moment. Photo by Tony RinaldoSaturate the Moment. Photo by Tony Rinaldo  
The winning installation from the first Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition was unveiled on October 28, 2013. Congratulations to Harvard Graduate School of Design students Keojin Jin MDesS '14 and Juhun Lee MDesS '14 for creating the winning design, Saturate the MomentView time-lapse video of the construction of Saturate the Moment.

Download the Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition Brief (PDF)

If you have any questions, please contact or call 617-495-8185.

Rules and Regulations

Information about Cycle 3 of the competition will be available in Fall 2015. Below is information about Cycle 2.

These rules and regulations may change at any time, at the discretion of the Radcliffe Institute.


The competition is open to all students currently enrolled in a Harvard degree program. In the case of teams, all team members must be currently enrolled in a Harvard degree program. 

The winner must be present in greater Boston from June 1–September 1, 2014, to participate in design development and the preparation of construction documents. Participation will include a weekly two-hour design and construction development meeting. In the case of teams, a point person must be nominated to oversee construction, in collaboration with the Radcliffe Institute, during this time period.


The student or team of students will retain all rights to the idea and design. The Radcliffe Institute retains all rights to the submitted materials (board, description, and budget), as well as to the final installation and all related materials. Radcliffe reserves the right to display, photograph, or otherwise record all submitted materials.


The installation must be capable of withstanding all weather conditions for the duration of display.

No changes may be made to any existing trees, plantings, or landscape elements (light fixtures, walkways, benches, etc.). The installation must be respectful of all existing plantings and trees around the stone dust plaza. The maximum depth for digging in the stone dust plaza is 6”. The completed installation must be contained within the dimensions of the stone dust plaza (72’ x 54’). 

Equipment access is limited to a small bobcat from the access road next to Putnam House.

All submissions must be compliant with the City of Cambridge laws and regulations, as well as those regulations stipulated by the Radcliffe Institute and Harvard University.


JANUARY 17, 2014:

Deadline to register online

JANUARY 31, 2014:

Submissions due


Selection jury meeting to determine a short list

Short-listed designers prepare jury presentations

Short-list designs reviewed for feasibility 

MARCH 2014:

Selection jury meeting to view presentations by short-listed designers

APRIL 2014:

Announcement of winning design


Design development begins


Design development and preparation of construction documents


Construction documents completed and project bidding



MAY 2015:

Installation opening


Lizabeth Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Anita Berrizbeitia, professor of landscape architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Yukio Lippit, professor of history of art and architecture and Director of the Arts Program, Academic Ventures, at Radcliffe

Alina Payne, Alexander P. Misheff Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Chris Reed, associate professor in the practice of landscape architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and principal, Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Diana Sorensen, dean of arts and humanities, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

About the Site

The installation site was created as part of Radcliffe’s comprehensive Landscape Masterplan, which called for the renovation of the entirety of Radcliffe Yard.   The garden was named The Wallach Garden in honor of longtime Radcliffe supporters Susan ’68, JD ’71 and Ken ’68, JD ’72 Wallach, whose whose generosity made the competition possible.  

The Wallach Garden is located in Radcliffe Yard, bordering Brattle Street, between Buckingham House and Putnam House. It is bounded an all sides by vegetation and can be seen from the street and from the yard. The installation space is 72’ x 54’, paved with compacted stone dust and equipped with water, drainage, electricity, Internet access, and seating. 


The winning submission will be given a budget of $40,000 with which to build the installation. This budget must include procurement of all materials, labor costs, equipment rentals, installation, and removal, as well as restoration of any changes made to the garden (i.e., stone dust must be replaced if the installation requires digging in the space). The Radcliffe Institute will supervise the use of this budget throughout the process.


The winning student or team of students will be awarded a $10,000 honorarium. In the case of teams, this award will be split equally among all members.


Online registration is required for each student or team of students and must be completed by January 17, 2014.

Only one registration per team is required; students submitting in teams should nominate a point person, who will be able to provide contact information for all teammates on the registration form.


Submissions are due by January 31, 2014.

Delivered in hard copy to Room 210 in Fay House, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge

  • one 24” x 36” vertical board, to include
    • two perspectives or cross-sections of the design plan, and 
    • signed consent forms from all team members


Delivered electronically to

  • written description of the design vision (500 words or less)
  • high-resolution PDF of the design board
  • budget worksheet, and 
  • detailed plan for taking the project from vision to reality

The jury will look favorably on submissions that feature realistic, specific plans for construction within the given budget and schedule.