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The Hancock or 200 Clarendon: The Best Buildings In Boston, Part 1

Hancock Building in Boston
The number one sexiest building in Boston!

One reason Boston is so deep in my heart is because its buildings are so darn sexy. They’re sleek, tasteful, not overly huge… and a lot of them are nice and shiny!

This post is the start of a series of odes to famous architecture that I love in Boston, so it’s only right to start with the biggest and best: the Hancock Building.

The John Hancock Building, located right near the Copley stop on the Green Line and the Back Bay stop on the Orange Line (and really any other stop, since Boston is so delightfully walkable) is literally a slice of heaven.

The Hancock is such an aria of mirrors that often you can hardly see that it’s even a building: it just appears as a bend in the sky itself. It’s as if the blue of the sky and the downy white of the clouds were poured into an ice cube tray and frozen. Glorious.

Three things stand out about the Hancock.

First, it came close to killing a lot of people. When the construction workers were first erecting the edifice, the windows kept falling out and smashing to the busy street below! But we like our crushes to be a little dangerous, don’t we?

Second, the Hancock is nestled right next to the classic historical architecture of Trinity Church (visible in the first photo of this article). Whichever way you photograph this unlikely couple, any future admirer of your pictures will squeal: “Oooh, you did such a nice job juxtaposing The Old and The Modern! And look how the church reflects on all that glass. Oh my, I’m feeling strangely warm and happy… Will you marry me, oh great photographer?”

The Hancock Building in Boston
The Hancock is like the sky poured into an ice cube tray!

Third, the Hancock is not a rectangle, but instead, it’s an ingenious parallelogram.

This means that from some angles… it looks two dimensional! From these angles, it literally looks like a small child who doesn’t understand perspective traced a rectangle in the sky, with no lines to indicate depth, and declared: “This is a building, Mommy!” Awesome.

Need a little more Hancock love? It’s all over my blog already and I haven’t even been back in Boston three months!

I always feel as if the Hancock is protecting us Bostonians. In any moment of fear you can look up and be soothed by the tall, confident, silver angel standing guard above Boston’s greens and grays and blues. In short, when I think of Boston, I think of the Hancock. Indeed, it literally reflects our city!

For more great Architecture, click here.


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Monday 18th of March 2013

Great post. I lived in Boston for years and never more than a few blocks from Copley Sq. and the Hancock building. I think I heard the buildings mirrored facade was required for it to be built so it would reflect the historic buildings around it versus simply blocking them. Love your posts!


Monday 18th of March 2013

Ah, yes, the mirrors highlight the historical surroundings rather than drowning them out. Love Boston! :) Thanks for reading!

Kenneth Holman

Thursday 26th of April 2012

It's cool how the Hancock is like a giant mirror. The second picture down is awesome because it captures so much of the city.

Elizabeth Do

Wednesday 14th of December 2011

I like the old John Hancock Building more because it has a weather light on top. If the weather is good, the light is blue and if it is bad, the light is red. I really like how the New John Hancock is nice and shiny where it will reflect the sky above and it becomes a "touchable sky".


Thursday 15th of December 2011

The building with the light is the Prudential Building!

Mohamed Abdelrahim

Thursday 28th of October 2010

I liked your qoute "The Hancock Building is like the sky poured into an icecube tray". The Hancock building is so awesome. I wish I could see it everyday.


Monday 16th of August 2010

The best thing about the Hancock is that it is like a giant map pin in the city of Boston. Just by looking at the sky-line you can tell how far away you are and what direction the city is in relation to where you are!


Monday 13th of September 2010

Jade, ever since you posted this comment, I haven't been able to stop thinking of the Hancock as a "giant map pin." So true!

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