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Route 128 Beltway

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1932–present. Rte. 128 from Lynnfield to Braintree.

Circumferential Route 128 (I-95/I-93) around suburban Boston was among the first full limited-access metropolitan beltways for an American city. Burlington is representative of the communities that grew rapidly because of the construction of this route. The first sections of the highway were built in 1932 from Braintree around the Blue Hills to Wellesley with Art Deco bridgework (1932) at Exit 19S–Highland Avenue, Needham (1954–1957 rebuilt), and the innovative postwar beltway of 1950 from Lynnfield to Wellesley is represented by concrete bridges (1950) at Exit 23N–Recreation Road, Newton (1958–1961 widened).

Traveling north to south from Lynnfield to Braintree, recent development along Route 128 has established beltway centers at key intersections, reconfiguring the early postwar research parks with office towers and landmark hotels. Early examples of beltway building are seen at Exit 41 right, the Wakefield Elks (c. 1955) with its original neon sign, and at Exit 38–Route 28, Reading, where, on the right is the original Addison-Wesley Headquarters (1955, Gilbert Small), hidden behind the Addison-Wesley tower. The most recent highway landmark is Jordan's/Home Depot (2002, Carter and Burgess), with its five-story glazed facade and braced roof. Burlington has notable edge-city landmarks at Exit 34 right with Skyworks (1980, Alpha Industries) and Exit 33–Route 3 right with the Elron (Bay Bank) Tower (1971) and the vast Burlington Mall (1968–1993). At the left are a series of glazed beltway office blocks, including Pagenet (1984, Add) and GTE-Genuity (1997, Larabee-Schuyler), the sleek Oracle Building (2001, Stagnolo-Gistess), the original single-story Datacon (1965), and the more recent Siemens (Noxdorf) (1988, Symmes, Maini and McKee Associates) at Exit 32 (Middlesex Turnpike). Passing Lexington Exit 29–Route 2 left, one sees the former Raytheon Company (1960) on Spring Street. In Waltham, a major office complex is located at Exit 27 left, with the glazed facades of the Westin Hotel (1987, Peterson-Griffin), the Prospect Hill Office Park (1989, Peterson-Griffin), and the mirrored Mitsubishi (Herriot) Company (1973, Corporate Design), followed on the left by the original buildings of the Polaroid Company (1953–1959, Aberthaw Co.) in Waltham (Route 117), Exit 26. In Newton at Exit 22 on the right is the Service Plaza (2001, Landry Architects), followed in Wellesley on the right by the recent Harvard Pilgrim Health Center (1998, Elkus/Manfredi) at Exit 2–Route 9 and on the left by the innovative Wellesley Office Park (WL1; 1974–1980, Pietro Belluschi) in rusted Corten steel. Approaching Exit 19 in Needham are the primary television transmitting towers in the Boston area, reaching 1,200 feet, at the right WBZ-WGBH (1955) and at left WCVBNYNEX (1997), with the Sheraton Needham (1992, Anthony Pisani) above the original Cabot, Cabot and Forbes research park (1955). Farther south, at Exit 17 in Dedham, within the highway median at the left is Norfolk County Correctional Facility (1990, The Architects Collaborative). Approaching the Blue Hills in Westwood at Exit 14 right is the Meditech (Underwood Ham) Building (1973–1974, Eggers Partnership) in handsome concrete form, and a complex in Canton at Exit 2 (Route 138), on the left, the recent EquiServ (2000, CDFM), the landmark Boston Mutual Life (1972), and the dramatic Reebok Complex (1998, Vanasse, Hangen and Brustlin), hidden from full view. Finally, at Exit 6–Route 37 on the right stands the South Shore Plaza (1961) and at the left is the Flatley Company (1985), set above the three-level junction (1957) of I-93 and Route 3 to Boston and Cape Cod.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Route 128 Beltway", [Burlington, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 422-423.

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