On Sunday, the Globe Magazine posited that Bostonians who object to City Hall, the JFK Building and that mental-health building with the staircases to nowhere are simply stupid, plebian dunderheads unable to grasp the magnificence and brilliance of these 1960s and 1970s edifices and their role in restoring Boston's luster after decades of decline. Or as writer Sarah Schweitzer (of course), put it:
Resentment of modern buildings was bound to be acute in Boston.
Oh, please. Does anybody resent the Hancock Tower? People resent structures like City Hall not because they are different but because they represent a deliberate attempt to stamp a giant boot on the face of the people who paid for them forever (John Collins was, I'm sure, a perfectly grand fellow, but that Orwellian homage to him on the side of City Hall fits the building perfectly). The JFK Building is decried not because it is new (or was when it was built) but because it's insipid and bland - just like those skyscrapers for which an entire vibrant neighborhood was torn down a few blocks away. Damn right people resent having the "old" taken away from them when that represents their homes.
In any case, in her inability to walk more than a few blocks from City Hall, Schweitzer missed some really ugly structures in Boston, ones that do little to bolster her case that the architects of the 1960s and 1970s are gods among men.
Take the bank buildings in the Financial District that dealt with those messy setback requirements by having their structures balloon out a few stories up like giant, pregnant alien invaders. Or take (please!) the building at the top of the post, a stupid, annoying thing on Harrison Avenue in Chinatown that looks exactly like a jail plopped right in the middle of the neighborhood - an ugly eyesore with gun ports that basically screams to onlookers "You suck and if you touch me, I'll cut you!" Ironically, the weird enclaves at the bottom provide a handy place for the homeless to get some brief respite from the wind.