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Boston City Hall gets a grant to help preservation efforts

Boston City Hall is iconic for its brutalism architecture, and the Getty Foundation wants to help this structure stay around.
Boston City Hall
Boston City Hall. Photo: Francisco Anzola / Flickr Creative Commons

Whether you love or hate the appearance of Boston City Hall, it’s here to stay.

The Getty Foundation has awarded the city a $120,000 grant to help preserve the building.

Boston City Hall is an iconic example of brutalist architecture, a style that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The building has been lauded as one of the most beautiful city halls in the country and also considered one of the ugliest buildings in the world.

However you see the concrete municipal building, it’s a Boston site that will last. With the grant’s support, experts will work alongside officials at Boston City Hall as well as the Boston Landmarks Commission to “evaluate the building and plaza, perform laboratory analysis of the concrete, and assess the building's systems in order to create a conservation management plan for the site,” according to the Getty Foundation.

Issues do plague the 1968 structure, however. Though all that concrete makes our city hall seem invincible, “serious issues affect the structure's long-term preservation,” the foundation says in a release, “from water ingress to inadequate joint support for structural concrete elements.

But why does the Getty Foundation, a Los Angeles-based art history nonprofit, care about Boston City Hall?

Officials there see it as one of 12 examples of “modern architecture” around the world worth preserving.

Grants were awarded to 11 other structures through the foundation’s “Keeping It Modern” initiative, which is focused on “supporting model projects for the conservation of modern architecture,” according to the organization.

Boston City Hall shares the honor with a variety of buildings, such as the Cathedral Church of St. Michael in Coventry, England; the Japan Sport Council in Tokyo, originally built for the 1964 Summer Olympics; and Brazil’s Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand.

Though Bostonian’s may question city hall’s place on that list, the foundation assures that it serves as an example of bold architecture.

“Grandly austere with its concrete facade, Boston City Hall features several playful gestures, including its gravity-defying mayor's office that hovers over the main entrance plaza and a profusion of outsized classical dentils,” the foundation says in a release. “The latter's ironic reference to the city's plethora of Greek-inspired municipal buildings underscores the architects' intention to introduce a new idiom to Boston's civic landscape. Although reception of the building has been mixed, the last several years have seen a shift in public sentiment, with many residents now embracing the site as a key feature of the city fabric.”