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The Un-Sexiest Building in Boston

Boston City Hall

Oh you rough, dull beast, Boston City Hall!

It’s not pretty. And, yes, we make fun of it all the time. Normally I stand up for such outcasts in life, but in the case of this ugly brick-ling, I’m with the bullies: “Ew.”

Boston City Hall: not even being guilded in gold like your State House sister would help you.

Online research about City Hall is sending me into gales of laughter.

Here are some gems of knowedge from Wikipedia:

  • Boston City Hall, completed in 1969, is apparently an example of “Brutalist” architecture. (“Brutalist?!” What’s next, “Scratch Your Eyes out With Concrete” School of Architecture?)
  • Wikipedia actually quotes Bostonians as calling City Hall: “Dysfunctional and dispiriting.” (It can actually put you in a worse mood?)
  • When the plan for the concrete building was first unveiled, someone in the room apparently shrieked: “What the h*** is that?!”
  • A gaggle of sight-impared weirdos at the American Institute of Architects voted Boston City Hall “The 6th Greatest Building in American History” in 1976. What?! Oh wait… mid-70s… Blame it on the drugs.
City Hall Boston

Dude… Look at it. Just look at it.

For years, I had this naive vision that maybe, just maybe, the inside of Boston’s City Hall would redeem it.

Maybe it was lined with plush, carpets in soft hues, adorned with crystal chandeliers, and caressed by warm, soft air!

But oh-ho-ho-NO, my friend… turns out the inside does NOT redeem the outside. If anything, it’s worse.

When I had to enter City Hall for the first time a few years ago to hand in some Boston Public Schools form or other, I literally thought I’d entered the lair of Hades. The fridgid air lashed my skin (Wikipedia explains the near impossibility of adequately heating the twisted building), and the walls were a jagged, unfinished concrete akin to the dripping inside of a cavern deep in the Earth’s core. I half-expected to see a bat (or ten) swoop down and give me rabies.

Ahem. I am being a jerk. But… seriously, man. That building!

City Hall architecture Boston

When I see the building, all I can hear is the sound “Ker-thump!”

Let’s try to be positive for a moment: the large, “unadorned concrete and brick plaza” (thanks, Wikipedia) in front of City Hall does have its perks.

I have been to many a food expo (Ice Cream Scooper Bowl!), food give-away (Campbell Soup Sandwich Truck!), and giant festival (random “Beach Parties” thrown all summer) in City Hall Plaza.

And thus I must grudgingly admit that the architecture as a whole brings the city together.

There was some talk in the past few years by Mayor Menino about constructing a shiny new (non-evil) City Hall by the Seaport District… but then the bad economy zoomed towards us and that plan was aborted.

And thus, scrappy City Hall, we are stuck with you in all your scratchy concrete glory. And deep down, I guess we have a soft spot for ya.

Sick of un-sexy architecture and want to check out some truly beautiful buildings? Click here!

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