Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston

Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston

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Overview

Often problematically labeled as “Brutalist” architecture, the concrete buildings that transformed Boston during 1960s and 1970s were conceived with progressive-minded intentions by some of the world’s most influential designers, including Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, I. M. Pei, Henry Cobb, Araldo Cossutta, Gerhard Kallmann and Michael McKinnell, Paul Rudolph, Josep Lluís Sert, and The Architects Collaborative.
 
As a worldwide phenomenon, building with concrete represents one of the major architectural movements of the postwar years, but in Boston it was deployed in more numerous and diverse civic, cultural, and academic projects than in any other major U.S. city. After decades of stagnation and corrupt leadership, public investment in Boston in the 1960s catalyzed enormous growth, resulting in a generation of bold buildings that shared a vocabulary of concrete modernism. The period from the 1960 arrival of Edward J. Logue as the powerful and often controversial director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority to the reopening of Quincy Market in 1976 saw Boston as an urban laboratory for the exploration of concrete’s structural and sculptural qualities. What emerged was a vision for the city’s widespread revitalization often referred to as the “New Boston.”
 
Today, when concrete buildings across the nation are in danger of insensitive renovation or demolition, Heroic presents the concrete structures that defined Boston during this remarkable period—from the well-known (Boston City Hall, New England Aquarium, and cornerstones of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University) to the already lost (Mary Otis Stevens and Thomas F. McNulty’s concrete Lincoln House and Studio; Sert, Jackson & Associates’ Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School)—with hundreds of images; essays by architectural historians Joan Ockman, Lizabeth Cohen, Keith N. Morgan, and Douglass Shand-Tucci; and interviews with a number of the architects themselves. The product of 8 years of research and advocacy, Heroic surveys the intentions and aspirations of this period and considers anew its legacies—both troubled and inspired.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580934244
Publisher: The Monacelli Press
Publication date: 10/27/2015
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 619,221
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Mark Pasnik, Michael Kubo, and Chris Grimley are collaborators in the design firm OverUnder and codirectors of pinkcomma gallery, Boston.
 
Mark Pasnik is an associate professor of architecture at Wentworth Institute of Technology and has taught previously at the California College of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, Northeastern University, and Rhode Island School of Design.
 
Michael Kubo is an assistant professor of architectural history and theory at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, University of Houston. He holds an M.Arch from Harvard and a Ph.D. from MIT, where his dissertation focused on The Architects Collaborative and the rise of the architectural corporation after 1945.
 
Chris Grimley is an adjunct professor at Northeastern University and has taught previously at the University of British Columbia, Rhode Island School of Design, and Wentworth Institute of Technology.
 
The Heroic Project was launched in 2009 with an exhibition at pinkcomma gallery and has since appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago, Boston Architectural College, Boston City Hall, Carnegie Museum of Art, Cooper Union, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other venues. Heroic has received honors from Docomomo US, Boston Preservation Alliance, Historic New England, and the Boston Society of Architects, and has been the topic of more than fifty reviews in journals and publications ranging from the New York Review of Books and Harvard Design Magazine to Slate and Gizmodo. They have also collaborated in the production of Imagining the Modern: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Pittsburgh Renaissance (2019), and Henry N. Cobb: Words & Works 1948–2018 (2018), both published by The Monacelli Press.

Read an Excerpt

Heroic is a story about a material, a city, and a movement. Told in many voices, it examines the bold legacy of Boston’s concrete architecture during a brief but critical era between 1960 and 1976, when the city witnessed a wholesale transformation through powerful and often controversial policies of civic intervention. Following several decades of economic and physical stagnation, public investment in Boston made it unique among major cities in the United States as the center of a generation of architects working in a shared vocabulary of concrete modernism. Boston became a laboratory for these architects to examine the material’s structural and sculptural qualities in reshaping the public realm, symbolizing a progressive civic vision through monumentality and robust architectural expression. Reflecting the dramatic scale of urban change in cities throughout the nation,
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