Leland Cott, FAIA LEED AP
Founding Principal, Emeritus
As a founding principal of Bruner/Cott, Lee has over 45 years of experience designing, implementing, and teaching architecture, interior architecture, and urban design. Responsible for primary client contact as well as oversight of ongoing work, Lee has worked on many kinds of projects over the years, but his focus is primarily on the design of academic buildings.
After earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree, Lee served for two years as a volunteer architect in the Peace Corps, designing and building rural schools in Colombia, South America. His experience was captured in “Bottle Caps, Manure and Architecture,” an article by the editor of Progressive Architecture magazine. Upon his return to the US, Lee earned his Master of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and shortly thereafter co-founded Bruner/Cott.
Lee’s design for his first private residence, in Weston, Massachusetts, was widely published and was featured on the cover of Architectural Record Houses of the Year in 1977. His early work with the company centered on the design of both market-rate and affordable housing. Washington Elms Housing in Cambridge and Mystic View Housing in Somerville are credited with changing the paradigm for the design of public housing in Massachusetts in the mid-1980s. His interests soon expanded to Boston’s growing commercial market, and the two office buildings at 20 & 21 Custom House Street and the Burberry, Ltd. building in the Back Bay are two notable successes.
But the main body of Lee’s work remains within the college and university sector. Since 1980, he has been the principal-in-charge for numerous campus projects including those at Harvard, MIT, and Boston University. He is especially interested in the large-scale rehabilitation of mid-twentieth century modern buildings such as Harvard’s Peabody Terrace Graduate Student Housing and Boston University’s School of Law tower and addition. His expertise has led to campus preservation and development plans, lectures, national conference presentations, and a Brutalism design blog series for Metropolis called “Icon or Eyesore?” Sustainable design is also at the center of Lee’s work; the new Center for Student Services at Boston University is LEED Gold certified, and the renovation of Harvard’s Blackstone offices achieved LEED Platinum status.
From 1994 through 2010, Lee was a Senior Adjunct Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he taught design studios concentrating on design and community development in such diverse cities as Boston, Chicago, Kiev, and Havana. He also taught a yearly seminar in the design of housing, and in 2007, he was selected to help direct the effort to restore Ernest Hemingway’s house in Havana. At Harvard Lee was a member of the Joint Center for Housing Studies where he was a consultant to the Government of Mexico on housing policy and a participant at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
Lee has been an active member of the American Institute of Architects and the Boston Society of Architects where he served on local, regional and national award juries including as Chair of the 2000 Jury of Fellows in Washington, DC. Lee was advanced to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 1995 and served as president of the Boston Society of Architects in 1996.
Lee grew up in New York City and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he lived for more than 40 years. In 2010 he designed and built a new house in Concord, Massachusetts were he now resides.