Author, Built In Boston
The Christian Science Plaza finds itself in danger of being vandalized, as your editorial “Save the Pool” rightly points out. Without that perfectly rectangular mirror of the heavens remaining fully intact, the wonderful sense of urban calm and dignity it brings to the city would certainly be diminished. But your editorial stops short of recognizing the other important aspects of the complex that are equally endangered.
The sense of repose is not created by the pool alone, but by the pool in composition with the larger plaza and buildings. Araldo Cossutta and his counterparts went to great lengths to orchestrate a coherent and noble ensemble, one that would suffer were it to be “greened” even if the pool remains as is. The space does not need softening any more than does Rome’s Piazza Navona or Paris’s Place Vendome. These are all great civic spaces, not playgrounds or parks.
I have spent the last year researching Boston’s postwar concrete buildings. My colleagues and I have dubbed them “heroic” structures for their bold, modern visions. The Christian Science Center complex is among the very finest of these — not only internationally acclaimed, but also widely enjoyed by Bostonians as a public space. This combination of architectural significance and popular appeal is rare among modernism’s concrete buildings. I hope the church — which has been an excellent steward of the complex in the past — does not slip down a shortsighted path. Thoughtful design improvements are welcome. And by all means, please develop the surrounding neighborhood. But don’t destroy its heart.
Assistant Professor of Architecture, Wentworth Institute of Technology
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