Concrete Changes: Architecture, Politics, and the Design of Boston City Hall
From the 1950s to the end of the twentieth century, Boston transformed from a city in freefall into a thriving metropolis, as modern glass skyscrapers sprouted up in the midst of iconic brick rowhouses. After decades of corruption and graft, a new generation of politicians swept into office, seeking to revitalize Boston through large-scale urban renewal projects. The most important of these was a new city hall, which they hoped would project a bold vision of civic participation. The massive Brutalist building that was unveiled in 1962 stands apart—emblematic of the city's rebirth through avant-garde design.
And yet Boston City Hall frequently ranks among the country's ugliest buildings. Concrete Changes seeks to answer a common question for contemporary viewers: How did this happen? In a lively narrative filled with big personalities and newspaper accounts, Brian M. Sirman argues that this structure is more than a symbol of Boston's modernization; it acted as a catalyst for political, social, and economic change.
Praise for Concrete Changes: Architecture, Politics, and the Design of Boston City Hall
"Concrete Changes is a readable, straightforward account of the history, creation, and reception of Boston's famous City Hall building of the 1960s. Indeed, one of the book's virtues is the clarity of its style and organization, which should appeal to a broad readership."—Daniel M. Abramson, author of Obsolescence: An Architectural History
"Until now, those seeking the story of Boston City Hall had to piece its history together from multiple sources. Sirman provides a narrative explaining the building's inception, completion, and long, troubled existence from the late twentieth century until today. His writing is direct, clear, and jargon-free."—Timothy M. Rohan, author of The Architecture of Paul Rudolph
"An expertly researched, written, organized and presented study, Concrete Changes: Architecture, Politics, and the Design of Boston City Hall is . . . unreservedly recommended."—Midwest Book Review
"Sirman draws effectively from the wealth of scholarship on Boston politics, planning, and architecture and unearths extensive unpublished documents, speeches, contemporary newspaper accounts, and periodical articles . . . With this book in hand, visitors may appreciate all the more Sirman's sound history, intepretations, and descriptions."—The New England Quarterly