In Boston, Modernist Landmark At Risk

It’s instructive to occasionally look beyond the 5 boroughs…

From The New York Times

Another Building by a Noted Modernist Comes Under Threat, This Time in Boston

BOSTON, March 1 — A plan to demolish a 1960 office tower by the influential architect Paul Rudolph threatens to pit a prominent developer backed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino against preservationists who see the building as a seminal example of midcentury Modernism.

If the developer, Steve Belkin, prevails, Mr. Rudolph’s 13-story structure will be supplanted by an 80-story skyscraper designed by one of today’s biggest names, the Italian architect Renzo Piano.

On March 13 the Boston Landmarks Commission plans to consider Mr. Belkin’s application for a demolition permit for the Rudolph building, at 133 Federal Street, in the city’s financial district. The commission, whose jurisdiction covers all buildings in downtown Boston and in other neighborhoods more than 50 years old, can order a 90-day delay during which it can ask the applicant to consider alternatives to demolition.

Several groups, including Docomomo, an international organization devoted to preserving Modernist buildings, plan to submit statements at the hearing urging the commission to recommend that the city delay issuing the permit by 90 days.

“We are not opposed to the new development, but we would like to think there is a solution that could accommodate the preservation of Mr. Rudolph’s building,” David Fixler, president of Docomomo’s New England branch, said. “It is a very significant piece of Boston’s architectural heritage and deserves a complete hearing.”

Similar battles to prevent demolition of Rudolph residences have been unsuccessfully waged in Sarasota, Fla., and Westport, Conn., in recent years; preservationists are now fighting to save his Riverview High School in Sarasota.

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