Boston City Hall

Kallmann and Michael McKinnell. Kallmann was a professor and McKinnell was a graduate student, both at Columbia University in New York (Kallmann 33). After winning the competition, these two would go on on to establish the Kallmann McKinnell & Wood architectural design firm with Edward Knowles in 1962. In 2005, Kallmann and McKinnell would write an editorial called Original Thinking: Reflections on the Genesis of Boston City Hall, in which they would look back at how their design impacted the world of architecture. In the article, the two talk about how ideals such as the brutalist movement would influence the design of the structure. This movement, which became popular in the second half of the 20th century, called for the outside of buildings to have exposed concrete (Monteyne 51). In some cases, the exterior would have exposed brick as well. The purpose of exposing the concrete in this type of design is to remind the individual who sees the building how far humanity has come, and what really goes into making a stable structure that is as massive as a modern building. Brutalist architecture was popular in government buildings that were meant to be open to the public (Monteyne 52). This was the case with Boston City Hall, which Kallmann and McKinnell admit was originally designed to be an extension of the city itself (Kallmann 34). The building was intended to be a connection between Boston’s waterfront and Government Center (Kallmann 34). To ensure that the city hall would be an icon for the city of Boston and stand the test of time, the developers made the exterior have an enigmatic quality (Kallmann 35). In this sense, the design of the exterior was meant to be mysterious and in some ways odd, so that individuals would have varying perceptions of the building. The concrete and brick tied in well with the existing architecture of the city, and also played a role in making Boston City Hall a recognizable monument for the city while remaining a functional extension of the local government. Most professionals involved in architecture, along with politicians who would be working in the building, found the building to be wonderful initially (Monteyne 45). Despite the controversy that arose from the construction of Boston City Hall, it still stands today. Furthermore, it is still a functioning institute of the government as well. Kallmann and McKinnell created the blueprint for the building to ensure that no matter how long the building stood, it would always enchant viewers with its mysterious and innovative exterior (Kallmann 35). The controversial reception of the building’s crude yet complex exterior helped to add to the legend and fame of the building. While some may not enjoy how it looks, it cannot be debated that the completion and reception of the building helped launched a new wave of brutalist architecture that became quite common in architectural endeavors that occurred throughout the 1960s through the 1970s (Monteyne 53). Boston City Hall’s raw and unconventional exterior design assists in making the building, and the city as a whole, a strong and stable place to be.

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Ling Li, Jack Mailloux, “Boston City Hall,” Boston History, accessed January 22, 2018, http://explorebostonhistory.org/items/show/21.

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