The Story Behind One of the Most Controversial Buildings in the Country

Love it or hate it, it's nearly impossible not to have an opinion of Boston's brutalist City Hall building. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of its conception, Leon Neyfakh reports on the improbable story of its creation.

The building, compared by Neyfakh to a "fossilized spaceship", was designed by young architects Gerhard Kallmann and Michael McKinnell as part of an "unusual design competition" mounted by Mayor John F. Collins in 1962.

Intended as a symbol of the future and catalyst for new development at a time when Boston was "dying on the vine," the design was initially met with trepidation by the public, recounts Neyfakh. And although it has been recognized as "one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century," the opinions of City Hall by its tenants and the citizens of Boston haven't measurably improved from its initial reception.

However, in recounting the improbable story of the competition that led to its creation, Neyfakh hopes to reveal, "not just the grand ideals that went into its design, but also that, however it may divide architects and regular Bostonians today, it played a pivotal role in bringing our once moribund city back to life."

Full Story: How Boston City Hall was born


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