You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Letters | The city’s sites

So-called ‘ugly’ buildings are part of city’s heritage, and deserve care

I appreciate Tom Keane’s reaction to Philip Johnson’s 1972 Boston Public Library addition and his depiction of its street presence as “simplistic and gloomy” (“Good with the bad,” Op-ed, May 7). In terms of scale and rhythmic harmony, its complement to the McKim Building fails to embody Johnson’s best work. If and how it gets retrofitted to respond to new programmatic requirements will demand, and hopefully receive, a high level of design skill.

That aside, I hesitate to characterize some of Boston’s most notable buildings of the 1960s and ’70s as ugly. The visibility, relevance, and, yes, beauty of some of these buildings requires us to maintain them, light them, and attend to landscaping and their immediate urban context.

Continue reading below

Perhaps they could be retrofitted for changes in use, but with respect and thought.

Boston City Hall’s interior employs no softening devices, be they lighting, graphics, or programming for public use. The condition of the plaza is an embarrassment.

Images of Paul Rudolph’s State Services Center have been featured in TV commercials. Evidently someone has recognized its visual complexity, vitality of form, and texture. Yet portions of the site have been closed off with chain-link fencing or are now parking lots. Monumental and interconnecting stairs and walkways have been fenced off from public use. Even the transparency of the large glass areas between the parade of monumental columns has been sabotaged by thoughtless window treatment.

These buildings remain part of our stylistic heritage. Lack of interest, care, respect, and creative retrofit guarantee that, as Keane puts it, “ugly persists.”

Donald J. Tellalian

Boston

The writer is an architect.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.