Nov 082010

Boston's fatty-bo-batty Building! So very, very Sexy-ugly.

We’re deep into our discussion of Sexy Buildings of Boston, but what about those buildings that are sexy because they are so… how shall we put this… freakishly strange?

To explain where the term “Sexy-Ugly” is from, let’s flash back to the 2001 flick, Kissing Jessica Stein.

Specifically, let’s recall the following chat between the two leads, as they discuss Jessica’s inability to find a man who matches her dream:

Jessica: If you’re lucky enough to find someone who’s the right kind of smart and the right kind of funny, usually they’re just… kinda…

Boston's "Building with a Hole in it." Sexy-ugly!

Helen: Ugly?

Jessica: Ugly, exactly. Oh my God, is that awful?

Helen: No, not at all. Ugly doesn’t do it for you. That’s okay. See me, I’m kinda into ugly… But only if it’s Sexy-ugly.

Fabulous.  You get it, right?  “Sexy-ugly” is someone who is not conventionally beautiful in a Brad Pitt or Giselle kind of way, but there is something so striking about them that they are really hot anyway.  There are googobs of Internet lists of which celebrities could be categorized as Sexy-ugly, but a few might include: Lyle Lovett, Lil Wayne, Jack Black, Steve Buscemi, and many more.

Understood?  Great.  Now let’s apply it to two buildings in Boston, both located right by South Station in the Financial District.

1. The Fiduciary Trust Building, also known (by me) as the “Fatty-bo-batty Building.”

The Fiduciary Trust Building by South Station has a giant hanging potbelly.  The ponderous weight of its torso balances upon a tiny stick of a trunk, like a man who has chugged far too much beer in his life and never once exercised his little legs.

Bottom line: the Fiduciary Trust Building is sexy-ugly.  You kind of want to keep ogling it, and you kind of want to shield your eyes.  Either way, you’re moved.

2. The “Building with the hole in it,” also known as the Federal Reserve Bank Building.

The hole building viewed from under the potbelly of the fat building!

This tall, sleek sweetie is Boston’s third tallest building, was completed in 1977… and features “a distinctive opening near ground level which allows sea breezes to pass through.” Um, thanks, Wikipedia, but you can just say, “Whoa: that building’s got a massive, freakish hole in it!”  Sexy-ugly for sure.

Incidentally for any of you Providence, Rhode Island fans, the Federal Reserve Building looks eerily like Brown University’s Science Library (or, affectionately, “SciLi”) in which I frequently fell asleep on rough bright orange couches while “studying” during my undergraduate days.  And further completing the coincidence, the character Jessica Stein in the movie quoted above attended no other but Brown University!  And that’s the kind of stretch text-to-world connection that only an English teacher can make.

So what’s YOUR take on the concept of Sexy-ugly?  On these Sexy-ugly buildings of Boston? Comment away.


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  18 Responses to “Two Sexy-Ugly Buildings of Boston”

  1. I actually find these buildings very cool. I never really noticed them until know, even though I lived in Boston all my life and pasted there millions of times. I think that it’s hard to design a building like that.

  2. These buildings don’t seem ugly to me at all! They actually seem really nice. But they’re unique too. Haha, I think Lil Wayne can be categorized as sexy-ugly too. There are a lot of people who are sexy-ugly. I love them =]

  3. It’s still a little weird seeing some of these buildings because I can’t recognize them all. I’ve lived in boston for 16 years and I still have so much to explore

  4. The term “sexy-ugly” to me means that it’s so ugly that it’s sexy. I’ve used that term before to describe animals. I think that elephants are sexy-ugly creatures. (:

  5. I agree. Something that is “Sexy-Ugly” is something that is so beautiful because it is oddly unique.

  6. I’ve seen these buildings, i go downtown sometimes and i pass them. The term “sexy-ugly” is both hilarious and ridiculously confusing at the same time.

  7. They are so ugly,but yet so beautiful!

  8. It’s kind of funny. I’ve lived in Boston my entire life and I can’t remember seeing any of these “sexy-ugly” buildings. I guess I should open my eyes a little more.

  9. So Sexy ugly is- ugly in the outside but nice in the inside. I understand that but relating it to a bulding is not a smart thing to do. Sounds kind of stupid.

    • Nope– My understanding of “Sexy-Ugly” is something or someone so strange-looking (on the outside) that it’s kind of beautiful.

  10. Sexy-ugly is a funny term. I think that the term sexy-ugly will give people confidence in themselves. Sexy-ugly can be used to describe Boston Latin Academy. From the outside BLA look sexy, per say, but if you come inside you will not think it is sexy anymore.

  11. i would love to hear what architects say about this posts

  12. I acually think that these buildings are gorgeous in their own ways.They are all unique and different!

    • Julia, I TOTALLY agree! I mean, who else would think of that? It has genius under all that cement!

  13. The building with the huge gap is weird. By that I could also say it is sexy-ugly because it is weird and ugly so it’s sexy ugly. But, these building are weird in a way that they stand out so they’re sexy, but they’re weird so they are ugly.

  14. Correction: An email from an alert reader pointed out that in an earlier version of this article, I mis-identified the first building in the photo as the First National Bank Building (or “Pregnant Building”) when in fact it is the Fiduciary Trust Building (which still looks pregnant, but since that title is already taken, we can just call it potbellied or Fatty-bo-batty). I have revised the article with this correction. Thanks, Tom! Other readers:

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me with corrections or additions. This makes me happy because, 1) I want to be as accurate as possible, and 2) It shows you’re reading alertly, which is great!

  15. Ah, I wondered what your KJS reference was going to be. Sexy-ugly is definitely apt for the Federal Reserve Building and the First National Bank Building. The latter doesn’t particularly strike me as pregnant, but perhaps I just need to let the idea marinate.

  16. The discussion between Jessica and Helen is pretty funny. I understand why you chose the Federal Reserve Bank Building as an example. The building does not sparkle, but its unique design and figure makes it stand out.

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