Boston has a unique architectural landscape. Buildings with stunning glass façades stand adjacent to those that are centuries old, representing the ever-evolving interplay between Boston’s past and innovative future. In order to get the most of your time while attending ULI, check out these five buildings that provide a historic and forward-looking lens through which to view the city.
Boston Public Library
Since it’s opening in 1895, the Renaissance-inspired Boston Public Library designed by architect Charles Follen McKim has been proclaimed a “palace for the people.” The Boston Public Library is ornamented with lavish engravings, sculptures, murals that represent the disciplines of poetry, philosophy and science, and warm light fixtures. Better yet, a hidden gem lies in the building’s center: an outdoor courtyard based on the sixteenth-century Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome. The courtyard features a fountain and bistro tables perfect for intimate dining.
Transforming the skyline of Boston’s Innovation District, 121 Seaport touts a unique elliptical shape that makes it one of the most sustainable and visually compelling buildings in Boston. Designed by the Boston-based design firm CBT and developed by Skanska USA Commercial Development, the office building’s rounded edges face prevailing winds and align with the trajectory of the sun, reducing solar heat gain and building material use, while significantly diminishing the building’s shadow impact. The overall effect: a beautifully reflective building that redefines the possibilities of building sustainability and community activation.
Boston’s streetscape is fascinating, but sometimes it pays off to look up. Developer Related Beal and architecture and design firm Arrowstreet have reimagined Fidelity Investments’ former headquarters into a mixed-use destination that melds together the historic and the contemporary. The five-building cluster’s tan stonework and oxidized-copper cornice detailing reflect the timeless elegance of the Financial District, while the expansive glass addition sits like a contemporary jewel on top with views of the city. The development also repositions Quaker Lane, a former alleyway, into a vibrant thoroughfare that will be home to retail.
The Old State House
Built in 1713, the Old State House is Boston’s oldest public building still standing. Originally host to the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s government, the Old State House was also the site of the infamous Boston Massacre. Today, surrounded by office towers, this stout brick building and its ornate detailing present a striking contrast to the Old State House’s modern neighbors. In particular, the white balcony from which officials used to address the public and the building’s recently refurbished gold lion and unicorn statues serve as key, historically-significant focal points. Our tip: try to catch this building just after sunset, coming down from Court Street. We promise it will take your breath away.
Education First’s Boston Headquarters
Any interest in taking a walk across the river? Education First’s Cambridge headquarters, built by Skanska, stands out for its stunning “waterfall” glass wall that runs through the middle of the building. When lit up, the wall’s fractured appearance is intriguing and an architectural surprise. This isn’t enough of a draw for you? The campus is home to North Point Park, which runs alongside the Charles River, offers access to local bike paths and provides great views of Boston across the way.
Outside of these key buildings, Boston’s buildings are pretty interesting. So, put your phone in your pocket while you’re on a break from ULI and take in the sites!