Today’s real estate market values modernity. Jon Chesto’s Oct. 31 article (“State to redevelop a prime site,” Business) conveys the state’s cautionary tone about the challenges of redeveloping the Charles F. Hurley Building and maintaining its architectural heritage. Yet to focus only on the Hurley Building’s flaws ignores the opportunities it offers.
There’s a craftsmanship to Brutalist design. Early images of the Hurley Building visualize a proud structure made beautiful and softer by rounded, flowing accents on the ground plane and landscaping. Now it’s shrouded by trees, fences, and towering, shadowy buildings. New pedestrian pathways encourage people to walk away rather than toward it.
So, the multimillion-dollar question is: What’s worth keeping? The building’s stepped structure, its unique shapes, and the prospect of creating private balconies all present residential and hotel uses as possible options, while improving the nooks created by the building’s shape could make public space more private. Future development should enhance the building and architect Paul Rudolph’s vision.
Rather than letting the demolition ball swing, there’s a chance to embrace and restore the connections and design features that once made the Hurley Building a sculpture against Boston’s skyline. We just need to welcome the challenge.
Director of asset strategy and repositioning
The writer directed a studio design class at Roger Williams University, where the Hurley Building was used as a case study.
Correction: The writer’s last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this letter.