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Boston’s Architectural Scene Gets A Wakeup Call

Almost half a century ago, Boston’s skyline went from ordinary to extraordinary with the arrival of the then-new Hancock and Prudential skyscrapers. In the decades since, the city has watched as its homegrown companies have led the nation in one advancement after another, bringing transformative innovation to medicine, technology and education.

Some felt, however, that Boston’s architecture scene lagged behind.

But on the heels of last year’s completion of One Dalton, a crop of new architectural stunners has risen from the Boston cityscape. They include Ellis Manfred’s rippling St. Regis Residences; The Parker, designed by Stantec; South Station Tower from Pelli Clarke Pelli; and Boston University’s recently unveiled Center for Computing & Data Sciences, designed by Toronto-based KPMB Architects. Each of these projects are giving Bostonians more reason than they’ve had in years to turn their gazes skyward.

Architecturally significant

As conceived by the late Harry Cobb, one of the nation’s legendary architects, the iconic, 750-foot tall One Dalton has introduced a new era in design innovation for Beantown. So says Richard Friedman, president and CEO of Carpenter & Company, lead developer of the high rise. “One Dalton is one of the most architecturally significant skyscrapers ever built in Boston,” he flatly asserts.

“This tower not only advances the architectural reputation of Boston, but also cements the incredible legacy of Harry Cobb, one of the world’s greatest architects, and completes the ‘High Spine’ of the Back Bay. We are grateful to have worked closely with Harry on this architectural landmark.”

In the Seaport enclave, a swiftly evolving neighborhood where bustling shipyards and sparkling new biotech headquarters stand virtually side by side, St. Regis Residences rises directly on the water, its design aptly conjuring images of the tall sail of a ship.

“The St. Regis Residences, Boston sits on the last developable residential site on the water in the Seaport,” says Jon Cronin, founder and principal of Cronin Development, the building’s developer.

“So it was crucial for us to emphasize this location by paying homage to Boston’s important seafaring history and expanding the footprint of Boston’s Celebrated Harborwalk . . . Manfredi envisioned a rippling, all-glass façade that evokes the movement of water and a ship’s sales as they billow in the wind, perfectly befitting the building’s location on the Harbor. The building, which is nearing completion, has solidified its place among the iconic landmarks along Boston’s waterfront.”

Within Boston’s emergent Theater District, The Parker rises over Boston Common in the form of a rounded-edge glass tower. With exterior sheathing of corrugated metal and dark charcoal glass, it sharply contrasts with the neighboring brick buildings, merging Boston’s understated elegance with the Theater District’s lively vibe.

The high-rise creates “a vibrant design statement rarely seen in this area” says Jonathan Landau, CEO of Fortis Property Group, The Parker’s developer. “Stantec’s use of charcoal glass paired with smooth rounded and gently segmented edges adds a flare of soft yet alluring drama that immediately grabs your attention as you stroll along the cobblestone streets surrounding Boston Common.”

Trademark center

Soaring 680 feet above Boston’s history-steeped landmark train station, South Station Tower is helping modernize the aesthetics of Boston’s Central Business District. As part of the development, South Station Tower features an updated rehabilitation of the trademark transit center.

Concurrently, KPMB Architects imbued the Center for Computing & Data Sciences with a look of stacked boxes and cantilevers, delivering an appearance not only distinctive, but downright controversial. Rising above the Charles River’s banks, the Center offers a head-turning backdrop for the river’s iconic crew races, in which teams from Boston University, MIT and Harvard University have long and colorfully vied.

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