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Will Today's Ugly Buildings Be Tomorrow's Historic Architecture?

This article is more than 9 years old.
Boston City Hall. It was built 1968 and is an example of Brutalist style.
Boston City Hall. It was built 1968 and is an example of Brutalist style.

On every list of ugly buildings in Boston, one in particular usually lands at the top. You know which one we're talking about. It was built in 1968 and has been widely hated ever since: Boston City Hall. Its style is "brutalist," which looks exactly like it sounds: big, blockish, hulking. Basically, a fortress of concrete.

There are constant cries to tear it down. And there's not much love for other Boston buildings from that era, like the 1966 JFK Federal Building and the 1972 Johnson Building addition to the Boston Public Library. But what if these homely structures are actually tomorrow's historic architecture? What if we just don't appreciate them yet, and later generations will embrace them even though we think they're monstrosities?

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer tackles those issues with today's guests and asks them what, ultimately, makes a building worth saving.


Ruth Graham, writer and author of "Can Buildings Be Too Young To Save?"

David Fixler, architect with the Boston firm EYP and a specialist in historic preservation. He's also co-founder and president of DOCOMOMO New England, a non-profit dedicated to documenting and conserving modern buildings.

This segment aired on December 19, 2013.

Sacha Pfeiffer Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.



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