Architecture of Boston - 25 Buildings that Represent its Architectural Heritage

Since the 17th century, there has been significant architectural development in Boston, especially to its colonisation, with the structures all represent different styles. Boston's architecture is undoubtedly one to admire since it is a combination of both old and modern styles. You would see structures built in the Georgian, Greek Revival, Victorian, Art Deco, Gothic Revival, Brutalist and other architectural styles.

If you are visiting Boston, make sure to take out the time to visit some of the most well-known buildings and monuments to understand the city’s rich heritage and culture. Here are 15 of the ones you must definitely visit:

1. Boston City Hall

The exterior of the Boston City Hall
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Home to Boston’s mayor and the Boston City Council, Boston City Hall stands as a specimen of the Brutalist architecture. Made of concrete in and out, the building has an intricate and articulated design and features the architrave and coffers atop the concrete columns. The gridded facade is adorned with LED lights, while the inside of the building includes a punctured grid ceiling and concrete pillars. Moreover, there are glass walls, tiles on the floor and rough walls, all from the original construction.
Established: 1968
Typology: Government
Address: 1 City Hall Square #500, Boston, MA 02201, United States

2. Kresge Auditorium

The popular Kresge Auditorium
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The Kresge Auditorium, a prominent part of the architecture of Boston, is characterised primarily by its elegant looking thin-shell structure made of reinforced concrete. The structure touches come down to the ground on three points since sheer glass curtain walls cut it off. Moreover, the dome, which is about 1/8th of a sphere, is covered with copper and sits atop a circular red-brick platform. The building is a concert hall, a theatre, dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms, restrooms, lounges, offices and more.
Established: 1955
Typology: Auditorium
Address:48 Massachusetts Ave w16, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States

3. Custom House Tower

The top of the Custom House Tower
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Situated in McKinley Square, the Custom House Tower's construction began in the 1830s with the custom-house representing the Greek Revival architectural style and the tower being added in around 1915. The neoclassical granite structure is 496 feet tall. It features Greek Doric columns, a white Vermont marble rotunda topped off with a dome, a balcony on the top floor, a clock on the upper tower, and a painting of the Great Seal of the United States in the lobby’s dome.
Established: 1915
Typology: Hotel
Address: 3 McKinley Square, Boston, MA 02109, United States

4. King’s Chapel

The outside of King’s Chapel
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An example of Georgian architecture, King’s Chapel on the Freedom Trail is made of dark Quincy granite and has several Ionic columns. Built around the original wooden church, the current chapel has arched windows near the entrance while on the inside are wooden columns with hand-carved Corinthian capitals. The pews within were made according to the tastes of those who paid rent for the church and have a uniform appearance. Moreover, the organ is slightly smaller than European chapel organs but has mitres and carvings.
Opened: 1754
Typology: Religious
Address: 58 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02108, United States

5. Massachusetts State House

The facade of the Massachusetts State House
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The Massachusetts State House situated atop Beacon Hill and spread out over an area of 6.7 acres is one to check out if you wish to explore the architecture of Boston. The building is built in the neoclassical-Federal style. It has undergone several renovations over the years. Today, it comprises an east and west wing built-in white Vermont marble, a basement, hearing rooms, the Great Hall or the 4-storey atrium, Corinthian columns and brick walls. The structure is topped off with a golden dome; it was initially made of wood, covered with copper, painted grey, and finally gilded with gold leaf. On top of the dome is a gilded, wooden pine cone.
Established: 1798
Typology: Government
Address: 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133, United States

6. Harvard Science Center

The modern-looking Harvard Science Center
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The Harvard Science Center in Boston is the main building used for undergraduate science and mathematics classes. To represent a rupture from the Georgian and related styles, the structure is built of steel and concrete and has several windows that allow natural light to come in. There are multiple storeys to the grey-facade building, with courtyards around and a focus on streetscaping. The area is adorned with many trees, bushes and flowers, adding to the building's appeal.
Established: 1972
Typology: Institution
Address: 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States

7. Macallen Building

The Macallen Building in Dorchester
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The Macallen Building boasts of a complex combination of two scales as well as urban configurations. The western end is a glass curtain wall tower that offers the residents a beautiful view while on the eastern end the building slopes down, featuring brickwork mirroring. Both the north and south facades have bronzed aluminium panels such that they reflect the staggered truss system inside. Furthermore, there is metal cladding around the truss to form a blade.
Established: 2007
Typology: Residential
Address: 141 Dorchester Ave, South Boston, MA 02127, United States

8. John Hancock Tower

The John Hancock Tower with its glass facade
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Built according to Minimalist architecture, the John Hancock Tower stands tall at 790 feet and 62 storeys. It is known for its structural flaws and massive glass panes, lack of spandrel panels and minimal mullions. The tower floor plan is a parallelogram shape, thus making the building appear sharper at the corners. The window glass is highly reflective and has a blue tint. Another architectural element of the tower is the deep vertical notch on the parallelogram's short sides, which emphasises it vertically.
Established: 1976
Typology: Office
Address: 200 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA 02116, United States

9. Prudential Tower

The top of the Prudential Tower
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Often referred to as the Prudential Building or The Pru, the Prudential towers are the city’s second-tallest building standing at 749 feet and 52 floors and radio mast. A special feature about the building, which has window lights and blackout panels, has been used over the years to show support for sports teams, The One Fund Boston, victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and more. These LED lights, which create a glow at the top of the tower, change colour depending upon the event or occasion.
Established: 1964
Typology: Office
Address: 800 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199, USA

10. Simmons Hall

The unique Simmons Hall at MIT
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One of the dormitories at MIT, Simmons Hall, is 382 feet tall with 10 storeys and is essentially a massive reinforced concrete block comprising square and large irregularly shaped windows. Often known as “The Sponge,” the building is home to three towers with rooms, lounges, a dining hall, a late-night cafe, a ball pit, a woodworking shop and an electronics maker space. While the structure is an iconic one in the city, it has been criticised for being less functional and more aesthetic.
Established: 2002
Typology: Residential
Address: 229 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States

11. Peabody Terrace

Peabody Terrace at Harvard University
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Built-in order to provide housing to Harvard students and their families, Peabody Terrace is an example of breaking away from earlier modern housing projects and indulging in progressive modern ideas. Often called cold or unattractive, this Riverside building follows a 3-storey volume perimeter and 5 to 7 storeys inside. There are shared courtyards owing to the slender housing bars and pedestrian paths to provide access to close-by communities.
Established: 1964
Typology: Residential 
Address: 160 Banks St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States

12. Suffolk County Courthouse

The entrance to Suffolk County Courthouse
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Formally known as the John Adams Courthouse, the Suffolk County Courthouse in Pemberton Square is home to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The structure is 6 storeys tall and 15 bays wide and made of granite. At the end of the main facade lie projecting pavilions: mezzanine level high on the sides and full roof high on the front. There are arched windows towards the lower part of the building, with rectangular windows on top, and above the basement floor are paired sash windows topped off by half-round transom.
Established: 1894
Typology: Legal
Address: 1 Pemberton Square, Boston, MA 02108, United States

13. One International Place

The One International Place tower in Boston
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Situated in the city’s Financial District, One International Place is a 46-storey tower with a modern rounded exterior. It was built in the Postmodern architectural style and features multiple windowed offices, most of which provide an excellent view of the city and the Harbor. The 7th tallest building in Boston happens to have a total of 3 elements and is also connected to Two International Place, Boston’s 11th tallest building which stretches up to 36 storeys.
Established: 1987
Typology: Office 
Address: 100 Oliver St., Boston, MA 02110, United States

14. Boston Public Market

The Boston Public Market in red brick
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An indoor public market built on Parcel 7 in downtown Boston, the Boston Public Market is home to 35 vendor stalls. The market is basically the entire ground floor of a mixed-use building and features ventilation towers for the underground highway. There are corrugated metal white canopies with washed up-lights over the stalls. Simultaneously, metallic copper laminate rectangular pylons cover utility rinsers and give the effect of a pillared market hall. Moreover, the interior features major use of salvaged barn board.
Established: 2015
Typology: Market
Address: 100 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02108, United States

15. Community Rowing Boathouse

The Community Rowing Boathouse next to the waters
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The Community Rowing Boathouse was built for Community Rowing, Inc. It has an innovative yet sustainable design with a narrowly divided footprint meant to create a public court and connect to the boathouse. It features tobacco barns and covered bridges. To protect, display and ventilate smaller boats, custom fabricated aluminium chips hold glass shingles that cover the sculling pavilion. To accommodate the larger structure's ventilation requirements, there are large composite panels that make up a kinetic cladding system.
Established: 2008
Typology: Boathouse
Address: 20 Nonantum Rd, Brighton, MA 02135, United States

16. Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House steeple
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Initially built as a church towards the end of the 1720s, Old South Meeting House, now a museum, became synonymous with the American Revolution and is definitely a major part of the architecture of Boston. This Downtown Crossing building is easily identifiable because of its white steeple with a green oxidised copper top, and overall red brick structure. Representative of the Georgian architecture style, the facade also features a clock, while the surrounding areas don’t have any trees or plants.
Established: 1729
Typology: Museum
Address: 310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108, United States

17. The Liberty Hotel

The Liberty Hotel in Boston
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The Liberty Hotel, a posh Charles Street hotel with over 300 rooms, was once a jail known as the Charles Street Jail. Following a violation of the prisoners’ constitutional rights, the jail was shut down and converted into what it is now, with the hotel retaining much of the original structure. The rotunda is as it used to be while the cupola was renovated. A 16-storey building was constructed next to it to house guest rooms, with a courtyard joining the two.
Established: 1851
Typology: Hotel
Address: 215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114, United States

18. Proctor Building

The Spanish Renaissance style Proctor Building
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Built-in the Spanish Renaissance style towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Proctor Building in Boston prominently sports an oxidised copper cornice. The commercial building is situated on the corner of Bedford and Kingston streets and is no less than a piece of art with its almost triangular shape and beige facade amidst the city’s skyscrapers. It has a total of 3 storeys and has several windows all around featuring hood moulds.
Established: 1897
Typology: Commercial 
Address: 100-106 Bedford St, Boston, MA 02111, United States

19. JFK Public Library

The famous The JFK Public Library in Boston
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Situated in Boston’s Dorchester neighbourhood, the JFK Public Library was built on a landfill and is a concrete triangular tower which is 125 feet tall. Rising along with the main structure, is a cube of glass and steel. It is a simple geometric structure with a grey-glass pavilion that connects it to a circular section housing two theatres. The theatres are dark and confined spaces used to show a biographical film, and the entire building is both a monument and a memorial.
Established: 1979
Typology: Library
Address: Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125, United States

20. Tremont Temple

The outside of the Tremont Temple
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Tremont Temple is a Baptist church in Boston comprising multiple storeys which replaced a much smaller structure. The building was initially the Tremont Theater built in the Greek Revival style taken over for religious purposes. Following several fires, the structure was renovated and the one that exists today features Venetian-style diamond-patterned stonework. There are retail spaces on the ground floor while the church itself has an auditorium used for religious and other purposes.
Established: 1896
Typology: Religious
Address: 88 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02108, United States

21. The Landmark Center

The Art Deco style Landmark Center
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The Landmark Center is a Boston Landmark which appears to be a mélange of a moat-enclosed castle as well as New York’s Chrysler Building. It is a commercial establishment built in the Art Deco style of architecture and features a limestone structure and a 200-foot tower. Initially meant for Sears, it now houses several stores, a theatre, a sports complex,  parking garage, a daycare centre and more.
Established: 1929
Typology: Commercial 
Address: 401 Park Dr, Boston, MA 02215, United States

22. Stata Center

The Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT
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Officially known as the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT, the State Center spans out over 720,000 square feet and is of the Gehry style. The crinkled sculptural form of the building, whimsical shapes, tilting towers and multi-angled walls are key architectural elements. The exterior is made of red bricks as well as shiny metal and has drum-shaped yellow sections. The street-level entrances are made characterised by zig-zagging metal canopies.
Established: 2004
Typology: Institution
Address: 32 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States

23. Cathedral of the Holy Cross

The interiors of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross
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The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in New England built when the area’s Irish Catholics needed a place of worship. The structure, built in the Greek Revival style, is made of Roxbury puddingstone and has a grey limestone trim. The arch over the front door was built using bricks from the 1834 Charlestown riots. The entire building is about 120 feet tall and also has an oratory for smaller services.
Established: 1875
Typology: Religious
Address: 1400 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118, United States

24. East Boston Public Library

The East Boston Public Library at night time
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Spread out over an area of 15,000 square feet; the East Boston Public Library essentially follows a one-room plan to accommodate all readers. It has a glass facade and a column-free interior divided into sections based on age groups. The structure is topped off by an undulating roof letting in a lot of daylight while the glass curtain wall allows passersby to look inside. The sidewalk features a stormwater garden.
Established: 2013
Typology: Library
Address: 365 S Bremen St, Boston, MA 02128, United States

25. Paul Revere House

The historic Paul Revere House
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Home to the American Revolution patriot Paul Revere, the Paul Revere House is the oldest in downtown Boston and has undergone several renovations since its inception in 1680. Sporting several colonial architecture elements, the house today largely resembles the original one and has two storeys and a high pitched roof and timber posts. The window glass is not original, but a few doors, window frames, flooring, foundation and inner wall material are. Moreover, two upstairs chambers contain some of the family’s furniture.
Established: 1680
Typology: Museum
Address: 19 N Square, Boston, MA 02113, United States
Don’t forget to check out some of these landmarks and monuments while visiting the city, so you get an idea of the rich architecture of Boston as well as its eventful history.

This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick

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