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BOSTON | Federal Reserve Bank Building | 614 FT / 187 M | 32 FLOORS | 1977
An anchor to the downtown Boston skyline (actually the tallest in DT Boston), the Federal Reserve Bank Building is a sleek, aluminum-skinned tower that looks more like a wall heater than a skyscraper.
Designed by Hugh Stubbins (Landmark Tower, Yokohama; Chase, Indianapolis), the building had major security requirements in the programming that required the first office floors to be substantially above street level. Giving these floors a similar treatment as Gunnar Birkerts did in Minneapolis four years earlier, Stubbins created a very slender vertical box with elevator cores at either end (kind of gives the building 'ears').
The tower was then given a very unique tri-angular shade element on the facade at each floor that has a very distinctive look. As I said, kind of like a wall heater.
The aluminum shines in the sun, and gives off a metallic hue in cloudy weather.
I'd have to say that this is probably my favorite tower architecturally in Boston. It doesn't have the purity or height of Hancock, but it's massing and materials due to program make it a subtle monster on the south end of the Boston skyline.
Even if you are 1 in a million, there are still 7,000 people just like you...
It looks a lot newer than 1977. When I came across it heading to South Station, I really loved it, but I assumed it was just as old as the other recent buildings along Atlantic/Central Artery/Rose Kennedy Greenway or whatever the hell you call it.
Either way, it's wonderful. The aluminum gives a dappled appearance that looks fantastic. I wish more architects would use this material for their big flat surfaces.
__________________ The joy and stimulus in architecture is the discovery of fresh combinations of old ingredients appropriate to present problems. I’d rather be right than contemporary. - Harry Weese
It's interesting that you mention Gunnar Birkerts. This building has the same massing for the same program as Minneapolis's Reserve building, but Birkerts had also designed an aluminum clad building (the IBM Building in Southfield, Michigan) with triangular sun shades. The sun shades were different though, they were integrated into the facade more and they were part of a bunch of other environment/performance related considerations.
But all together this fine building seems to be a combination of ideas found in those two Birkerts projects.
It's nothing overly special, especially a city the caliber of Boston should be proud of. Boston has been privileged with such rich history, yet tainted with b class brutalist high rises since the 70's. The other stands next to the Hancock Center. But not disgusting, either.