125 Summer Street // 1989

The late 1980s were a time of financial success for developers and banking companies all over the country. It seems that more skyscrapers were constructed in Boston this decade than any other of the 20th century, but working within the confines of the historic downtown of the city, left architects and developers to come up with creative ways to build here. The architectural firm of Kohn Pederson Fox was hired to construct a 20+ story office tower at the southern edge of the Financial District in Boston, while preserving the small-scale commercial buildings there. A row of four-story commercial blocks constructed after the Great Boston Fire of 1872 were retained with the tower seemingly growing out of them. The process here is known as “facadism” which is a valuable preservation tool to balance preservation with density in historic downtowns, though not always done right. This KPF design with its Post-Modern tower in concrete and granite fits well within the streetscape and maintains a walkable block downtown.

What do you think of this design?

Head House // 1980

If the 1980s was a house, this home in the Fisher Hill neighborhood of Brookline would be it! Located at the corner of Fisher Ave and Leicester Street, the property actually was built in 1902 for Elizabeth Head. The home was the earliest on the street and was wood frame with stucco siding. In 1980, the home was completely renovated in the Post-Modern style, fairly uncommon in this high style. The owners hired architect Tom Larson to completely reconfigure the home and add some cartoonish features which really catch the eye. The home was re-clad with multi-colored stucco, given rounded windows, and a rounded entry with colonnade.

One Bowdoin Square // 1989

One of the few great examples of Post-Modern architecture in Downtown Boston is the eleven-story One Bowdoin Square building. During the period of Urban Renewal in Boston in the 1960s, much of the area known today as Government Center and the West End was demolished and replaced with taller buildings with plazas, many of which for governmental or institutional uses.

The site of One Bowdoin Square was redeveloped in 1968 as the “Bulfinch Building”. The building was designed by Mark Kiley and featured light brick with concrete banding between floors. In the 1980s, the building was already outdated and proposed for redevelopment again. When analyzing the building, it was determined that the building was structurally sound and it was deconstructed to the framing and remodeled by the amazing Graham Gund. The current building is a very unique Post-Modern structure with a very interesting entry and flared cornice with triangular windows.

Ca. 1980 image of “Bulfinch Building” before redeveloped into One Bowdoin Square. Image Courtesy of MACRIS