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Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

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Old 11-15-2010, 11:48 PM   #21
Equilibria
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

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A skyscraper often defines a town's personality. The Pru defines Boston to a T.
Precisely correct. The Pru defines Boston as a city with more past than future, which continues to be dominated by obsolete conceptions of development and politics as well as architecture.

I can see what the designers of the Pru were going for, especially in the pictures of it under construction and brand new. Ironically enough, the rendering actually accomplishes in the current city more or less what the initial tower did in the 1950s. Gaudy, ostentatious, impossible-to-miss. It's fugly, but so is the current tower. I don't love it.

I'm not saying the Pru is bad, I'm saying its architectural concept no longer applies. Unlike the Hancock in Chicago, which was similarly designed to utterly dominate a low-rise city, it doesn't majestically join a modern skyline. It has gained a stumpy bastard child in 111 Huntington and lost its height crown to the Hancock.

We don't need to tear it down or screw with it, but we do need to focus on adding another monument to Boston's skyline to draw the eye. The Pru isn't the Custom House Tower, it's an outmoded experiment, a relic of and monument to the age of urban renewal.
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:58 PM   #22
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

The Pru needs a good refurbishment that maintains the original design, with a minimum of additional flourish.

One thing I really appreciate about the building is that it incorporates the kind of surface detail you don't really see anymore. The 1960s were the decade where curtain walls were often infused with dense filigrees and small-scale accents that invited close examination. This was best exemplified by buildings like the Pru, or the World Trade Center. It was the time just before blank mirror glass took over as the de-facto standard.

It may be a bit faded, and is definitely representative of a particular time (which I find endearing), but I find it infinitely more interesting than the banal 111 Huntington.
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:35 AM   #23
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

^^^ very true thats what I love about boston and believe we do need a supertall downtown at some point hopefully something that is world class, but what I like about the back bay is we have two perfectly placed relics from two very important times in architecture. You have the pru which came mid 60's which has that very decorative facade no art deco obviously but still very decorative for what it is. Then you have the hancock which came right at the beginning of what we are still seeing today which is the all glass facades. Even though it is similar to what we have today it still is like no other building ever made and I believe it was one of if not the first all glass facade buildings, which is why most of it fell off at first. Now all we need is that icon to represent the present and future and we will be all set, I'm almost glad nothing had been built because I dont think the trans national place building would have been as good as we can get and eventually something will work its way out.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:59 PM   #24
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

Anyone still have the redesigned JHT? That proposal made me want to puke. Looked like some kind of steam punk creation.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:44 PM   #25
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

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Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
, it's an outmoded experiment, a relic of and monument to the age of urban renewal.
I don't agree. Actually, the Pru is a nice counterpoint to urban renewal projects like Government Center and the West End, which destroyed neighborhoods and replaced them with enduring crap. The Pru was built on unused land, and anchored a new neighborhood/complex/call-it-what-you-will ... and while that neighborhood/complex started off without the trappings of urbanism, the site has remained changing and dynamic. Decades later, other unique towers have joined the original. Very recently, Boylston Street has attained a coherent streetwall thanks to the Mandarin. We have an indoor shopping district which can be derided as a "mall" but in fact works well in an urban context (and is especially useful given Boston's weather).

The area is changing, inventive, and dynamic, and all thanks to the bold idea of building a skyscraper on a rail yard. I'd hesitate to call anything about the tower or the complex "outmoded."
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:41 PM   #26
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

From here.

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Julius Shulman spoke of the optimism that the Modern movement aspired to project. Granted, that's a quality better seen in Southern California, the world he captured in crisp black & white. Consider The Pru against its cousins in NYC and Chicago. Does it not have some of the optimism that Shulman spoke of?

The Pru is a handsomely proportioned product of its time, and age has improved it. In an era of pinstriped and gray flannel towers, it's dressed in a classy glen plaid suit.
The proposed modification from 1986 was and remains utterly vomitous. Sean Connery doesn't need a facelift.
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:21 PM   #27
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

Okay...but allow me to play Jimmy the Dunce for a second...


And yes, this has talked about at nauseum.


Look, most of us here would enjoy a nice 300ft skyscraper overpowering Boston. But we have the NIMBYS who control the Mayor and the BRA like a Marionettes. Look at what happened to Don Chifaro. Granted you had two hothead sicilians going after each other, but when the Mayor told Chifaro that the height limit was 200ft, he meant it. Now, I don't know if those are the height guidelines that the BRA set in stone for ALL developers, or if that was just Menino's way of telling Chifaro to go fuck off. But, it seems to me that there are just too many NIMBY's to control the area. They (including one neighborhood activist who sometimes posts here), don't understand what living in a city is about.

Most people don't want Boston to turn into Dubai or Mumbai where the working-class is being phazed out. But some compromise is needed. The typical answer "if you like skyscrapers, go to NY. This is Boston. We're small town folks with small minds," has destroyed what could've been. I mean, our home NFL football team plays a 1/2 hour South of the City in which they represent. We can't build a new Fenway, we have to whitewash the fence and have it refurbished.

I am thankful for Developers like John Rosenthal, who took a lot of shit from the people of the Fens, the BRA, and the Emperor, and didn't give up. He didn't go to another city. Now we have some progress in the city. Granted that the tower proposed for One Kenmore Square isn't architectually the best looking...but it's progress. And now look at the situation, the Fenway Center project is going to get built one way or another. Yet, you have to sometimes make sacrifices.

Bottom line: If you want to build here in Boston, better get the lube out.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:04 PM   #28
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

the other nite from the pike

Last edited by Boston02124; 12-10-2010 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:20 PM   #29
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
Precisely correct. The Pru defines Boston as a city with more past than future, which continues to be dominated by obsolete conceptions of development and politics as well as architecture.

I can see what the designers of the Pru were going for, especially in the pictures of it under construction and brand new. Ironically enough, the rendering actually accomplishes in the current city more or less what the initial tower did in the 1950s. Gaudy, ostentatious, impossible-to-miss. It's fugly, but so is the current tower. I don't love it.

I'm not saying the Pru is bad, I'm saying its architectural concept no longer applies. Unlike the Hancock in Chicago, which was similarly designed to utterly dominate a low-rise city, it doesn't majestically join a modern skyline. It has gained a stumpy bastard child in 111 Huntington and lost its height crown to the Hancock.

We don't need to tear it down or screw with it, but we do need to focus on adding another monument to Boston's skyline to draw the eye. The Pru isn't the Custom House Tower, it's an outmoded experiment, a relic of and monument to the age of urban renewal.
A little late in responding, but I wonder about your age/historical perspective. The original design intent is no longer clear due to shitty upkeep. Were it maintained properly, it wouldn't nearly be such the "fugly ... relic of and monument to the age of urban renewal." I look at it every morning when I get ready for work. It's a decent building with some very classic design elements that also spoke to the future (as it was physically imparted at the time of construction).

Unfortunately, the owners, over the years, have done it no justice by deferring exterior maintenance.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:37 PM   #30
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

Really? I think the Prudential has been enormously improved over the past 15 years with the addition of the shopping mall, 111 Huntington, the redesigned Hynes Convention Center, the indoor connections to the Green Line and Copley Place, etc. The tower is now connected to the surrounding city in a way it never was before.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:13 AM   #31
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

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Really? I think the Prudential has been enormously improved over the past 15 years with the addition of the shopping mall, 111 Huntington, the redesigned Hynes Convention Center, the indoor connections to the Green Line and Copley Place, etc. The tower is now connected to the surrounding city in a way it never was before.
Ron, I wasn't talking about the campus. I was talking about the upkeep (or not) of the exterior of the tower.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:08 AM   #32
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

I agree with both of you! The tower itself needs to be cleaned and updated abit,The surrounding area has been transform from an outdoor barren mall to a very succesful Boston destination!
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:29 AM   #33
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

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Originally Posted by Mayor Menino's Crohn's View Post
I am thankful for Developers like John Rosenthal, who took a lot of shit from the people of the Fens, the BRA, and the Emperor, and didn't give up. He didn't go to another city. Now we have some progress in the city. Granted that the tower proposed for One Kenmore Square isn't architectually the best looking...but it's progress. And now look at the situation, the Fenway Center project is going to get built one way or another. Yet, you have to sometimes make sacrifices.
If you went through an reread the entire saga of One Kenmore/Fenway Center, Rosenthal wasn't getting shit from the neighborhood or the city on anything other than the massive amount of parking included in the various incarnation of his project. The RedSox were essentially the biggest NIMBYs during that project's design process over views into the park and alterations of prevailing winds. If anything the project is now worse and less to everyone's, except the RedSox's, liking. Unfortunately nothing particularly spectacular will ever be built on those Pike parcels as all development directly adjacent to the Fenway Park will always be subservient to the ownership of the ballpark.
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:37 PM   #34
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

One of my favorite descriptions of the Pru is "the box the Hancock came in."

This said, I think it stands as a monument to its time, much like City Hall does. It exists and it exemplifies an era of architecture that encompassed different ideologies. Instead of re-surfacing everything, I think it should be kept and we should continue to learn from it.

They tell you in architecture school to never erase a mistake because you'll always have something to reference if you leave it. The same works with architecture in general. We shouldn't just erase buildings from the past. We just need to keep looking forward to the future.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:43 PM   #35
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower



I propose (jokingly) the addition of slides to the building. I was working in this building when the water main in the building broke. It caused an evacuation of the entire prudential tower. I was only on the 39th floor, and it took 52 minutes to evacuate the building. It was long, boring and hot.
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:12 PM   #36
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

I heard somewhere that the evacuations of the Twin Towers were delayed due to so many women wearing high-heeled shoes.
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Old 12-28-2010, 03:08 PM   #37
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

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I heard somewhere that the evacuations of the Twin Towers were delayed due to so many women wearing high-heeled shoes.
I'd believe it. It takes 2 seconds to take them off and you can go a lot faster without them.

Quote:
The qualitative data also suggested that, after a decision to evacuate was made, many persons stopped to attend to last-minute activities (e.g., making telephone calls, shutting down computers, or gathering up personal items). Deciding which route to take (e.g., stairs or elevators) might have delayed evacuation progress for others. Progress was reportedly slowed for some persons because of poor physical condition or inadequate footwear (e.g., high-heeled shoes or "flip-flops"). Some persons also delayed their progress to stop and assist others.

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5335a3.htm
Complete high-rise evacuations are never really pleasant though and they're rather rare. Typically it will be one section of the building and the stairs function more efficiently. You can never really design enough stairs for a complete evac without putting stair cores all over the place, sacrificing square footage.
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:46 PM   #38
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

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Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
If you went through an reread the entire saga of One Kenmore/Fenway Center, Rosenthal wasn't getting shit from the neighborhood or the city on anything other than the massive amount of parking included in the various incarnation of his project. The RedSox were essentially the biggest NIMBYs during that project's design process over views into the park and alterations of prevailing winds. If anything the project is now worse and less to everyone's, except the RedSox's, liking. Unfortunately nothing particularly spectacular will ever be built on those Pike parcels as all development directly adjacent to the Fenway Park will always be subservient to the ownership of the ballpark.
Actually since the Sox weren't allowed to build a new park adjacent to the old one, the next best thing to "rebuilding" Fenway was to redevelop the area. While Fenway Triangle is more beneficial to neighbors in the area, Yawkey Center is better and the Sox supported it for this reason: More revenue. The redeveloped Commuter Rail Stop will help to plant the seeds for John Henry and Co. to turn acquire the land/air parcel rights and then redevelop it for their own purposes (ex: Yawkeytown). No. The Sox were behind this 100%. This is also mere consolation for what the Save Fenway zealots did in 1999-2000.

Back on topic: The Pru (oddly enough) is as Boston as the Sox. You really can't mess around with it.
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:01 AM   #39
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

i think the pru is amazing the cladding is like no other
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Old 11-03-2015, 07:06 PM   #40
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Re: Redesigning Prudential Tower

Not the tower, but seems like a decent thread. I've been doing a lot of two things lately:

1) Walking from Back Bay to the Boylston St via Copley Place and the Pru. I've come to hate the gerbil tunnel over Huntington because its narrow, hot, and the doors on each end are a pain.

2) Shopping at Roche Bros because of its T accessibility. It's actually easier to take the T from Assembly to DTX then walk to the Stop and Shop near me.

That makes the Shaws at the Prudential Center annoyingly tempting during my walk. Actually connecting it, especially with the demise of the food court, has been oft talked about. That Shaws also has a useless double-height rotunda...



This also has the added bonus of adding another point of egress to the complex, and would allow the skybridge to be modernized and de-uglyfied. I'm thinking similar to what Liberty Mutual did.
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