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Berkeley Building

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1909, Codman and Despradelle; 1988, Notter, Finegold and Alexander. 420 Boylston St.
  • Berkeley Building (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

Completely out-of-sync with the fabric of the Back Bay, this delicately wrought, whiteglazed terra-cotta-sheathed metal frame with its expansive fenestration was once home to the Boston Design Center (now SB11). Rehabilitated for commercial offices and retail, the structure bespeaks French ancestry, through architect Desiré Despradelle, design professor at MIT from 1893 to 1912. Comparable to early-twentieth-century Parisian glass facades, Art Nouveau elements on the exterior are echoed in the interior, in an atrium surrounded by a glass-roofed court. Today one welcomes the uniqueness of its light framework, the surfeit of glass, and the flamboyant aspect as relief from the brick and masonry context of Boylston Street and the Back Bay.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan

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