Architecture critic Robert Campbell writes in the January 3, 2010 issue of the Boston Globe,
A bunch of young architects in Boston are singing the praises of a whole generation of Boston buildings made of concrete. They call it the 'heroic' period of Boston architecture. It lasted maybe 20 years, from the late 1950s to the middle 1970s.Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo of the local design firm 'over,under' (http://www.overcommaunder.com) ran an exhibition entitled 'Heroic' in the gallery the firm also runs, known as pinkcomma. Writes Mr. Campbell,
About one thing, they’re absolutely right. Love it or hate it, there really was a Boston Age of Concrete. It’s time we began to accept it as one of the historic periods of local architecture, just like Colonial or Victorian.
They identified 154 buildings, in Boston and Cambridge alone, that qualify for inclusion in 'Heroic.' Today the Age of Concrete is timely again for the simple reason that many of its monuments are in danger of being demolished. That’s most notably true of City Hall, the crown jewel of the era, which Mayor Menino hopes to get rid of.As Mr. Campbell notes, "The Boston Society of Architects gives an annual award, the Parker Medal, for the 'most beautiful' new building of the year. Between 1964 and 1976, 11 of the 12 Parkers went to buildings made almost entirely of concrete. Only the pink granite tower at 28 State St., in 1971, broke the string."
According to Mr. Campbell, the 'over,under' team might be the harbinger of a renewed interest in the concrete buildings that are sprinkled throughout downtown Boston.
The Age of Concrete was a brief chapter, but a fascinating one, in the history of Boston architecture. We don’t have to sanctify it, but we shouldn’t rip it all down either. The task today is to recognize that the era existed and that it mattered, and to begin the task of evaluating what was good and what was bad.For an interesting - somewhat paranoid - critique of the above article, you can find Thomas Garvey's response here entitled When he says 'heroic', he means 'Harvard'.