Thursday, May 15, 2008

Boston's Top Buildings

Architects from around the country are descending upon Boston today for the annual convention of the American Institute of Architects. (No word on whether Art Vandelay will be in attendance.) As part of the coverage of the convention, Architectural Record magazine released a list of Boston's Top 10 buildings. The magazine's top 10 are

1. Harrison Gray Otis House
2. Massachusetts State House
3. Trinity Church
4. Boston Public Library
5. Baker House
6. Kresge Auditorium
7. Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
8. Christian Science Center
9. John Hancock Tower
10. Institute of Contemporary Art

I certainly can't argue with the State House, Trinity Church, the BPL (not crazy about the newer part of the building designed by Philip Johnson), and the John Hancock Tower. (And possibly the Christian Science Center.) The Hancock is probably one of my favorite skyscrapers. Even though its design is sleek and relatively simple, it's still very dynamic depending upon the weather and the angle at which you view it. I would have had any of these buildings rated at the top rather than the Harrison Gray Otis House.

The rest of the buildings wouldn't have been on my top 10. I'm reserving judgement on the ICA for now to see how it fits in with the rest of the South Boston Waterfront when it's developed. The ICA is one of those buildings I think looks better lit up at night rather than in the plain light of day, and from some of the sightlines available from the undeveloped land around the museum I don't find the ICA too captivating.

What other buildings would have made my list? Custom House, Old City Hall, Boston Athenaeum, and Boston Light (if Boston Light could be considered a building).

Understandably, Architectural Record didn't name the city's worst buildings. I would have to give the nod to the Lindemann Mental Health Center on Staniford Street. This brutalist architecture is really depressing, particularly when it rains. An example of form follows function? I guess I just don't like brutalism because City Hall and the New England Aquarium don't do anything for me. And why is the harbor view from the nearby Harbor Towers one of the best in Boston? Because it doesn't include the Harbor Towers.

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