Worst Public Art: Boston City Hall?


Juliana Brown makes the following nomination for our Worst Public Art in New England project (submit your own nominations):

“I don’t know if it exactly qualifies as ‘art,’ but City Hall and the brick-paved wasteland around it is the least-lovely thing to look at in Boston.”

Ms. Brown is not alone in her judgement. In 2008, the website VirtualTourist.com named Boston City Hall the ugliest building in the world! They wrote: “While it was hip for it’s time, this concrete structure now gets routinely criticized for its dreary façade and incongruity with the rest of the city’s more genteel architecture. Luckily, it’s very close to more aesthetically pleasing attractions.” Thomas Garvey also penned a thoughtfully acid critique of Boston City Hall and Brutalist architecture in Boston.

Read our entire list of Worst Public Art nominations so far here.

Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri, from Wikipedia, used by Creative Commons License.

One Response to “Worst Public Art: Boston City Hall?”

  1. David says:

    Although I agree with many of the nominations on this list (but not all) I would ask people to talk a little more about what they think makes a particular work of public art work or not work. Some examples are obviously inappropriate, like the Irish Famine Memorial, for many of the reasons given. But for me, public art is all about its interaction with its surroundings, whether it is the community, the architecture, the landscape, or the history. Recently I was looking at the artwork associated with the Rose Kennedy Greenway and discovered a lovely mobile/stabile quietly tucked into a nook and surrounded by trees. It worked because the movement and grace of the mobile interacted very poetically with the natural landscape. On the same visit I saw some very unattractive and light pillars, that were out of scale, without connection to the surroundings, except as visual distractions, and constructed with more poured concrete (as if we don’t have enough of that around). They reminded me of slow-mo light shows at a rock concert and might have been interesting in such a context, but not in a park/greenway. Perhaps the readers to this site could give more context to their choices along with their opinions. It will help people to see patterns to what makes successful public art.