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Boston City Hall

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1968, Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles. City Hall Plaza.
  • Boston City Hall

Winners of an open nationwide competition in 1962, the architects of the new City Hall introduced late modernism to Boston, creating a monumentality considered appropriate for municipal government. Their goals were admirable: to connect the principal parts of the city physically, psychologically, and visually to the machinery of civic services; to provide access to all; and, above all, to be a celebration of government.

From a stylistic point of view, the massive concrete and brick structure was radical. Inspired by Le Corbusier's monastery at La Tourette near Lyon, France, the building's different parts articulate the workings of government. Interior functions are visible on the facade; the lower brick stories are tied to the plaza and to the urban fabric of Beacon Hill, making this the area most open to the public. Together with the enormous plaza, the central open skylit atrium was designed to act as a locus for grand civic commemorations. Upper stories divided by a modular grid reflect the bureaucratic nature of urban government. Between, one finds the wheels of operation, the mayor's office and the council chamber.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Boston City Hall", [Boston, 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, 52-53.

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