State Service Center, Boston (Photograph by Bruce T. Martin)

If you’re like most people, here’s your take on Boston’s mid-century-modern buildings: architectural abominations that stomped into town in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, trampled the delicate brickwork of yesteryear, assumed outsize proportions in the skyline, and today lord their ribbed concrete and geometric eccentricities over the city like barbarians that got through the gate. Mayor Tom Menino is right there with you. He minces no words when it comes to his dislike of our most famous mid-century-modern building, Boston City Hall.

But after half a century, at the start of a new decade, perhaps the time has come for a reconsideration: Could it be that the buildings are not inherently out of place in Boston? That rather they are feats of imagination and craftsmanship and tragically misunderstood — the architectural equivalent of an abstract Jackson Pollock painting or a forbidding 12-tone Arnold Schoenberg orchestral work.


Sarah Schweitzer
Boston Globe