KALLMANN, MCKINNELL AND KNOWLES
Boston City Hall, 1962-1968
Boston can celebrate with the knowledge that it has produced a superior public building in an age that values cheapness over quality as a form of public virtue. It also has one of the handsomest buildings around, and thus far, one of the least understood.... It is a product of this moment and these times—something that can be said of successful art of any period.... The result is a tough and complex building for a tough and complex age, a structure of dignity, humanism, and power.
Ada Louise Huxtable New York Times, February 4, 1969
In a single building, the architects Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles created a contemporary microcosm of Boston.... Rising as if a part of its broad plaza, a brick base envelops the everyday functions of city government (licences, permits, taxes, etc.) in a daylighted system of "indoor streets"…. High above, a new order of precast concrete window wall sections contains the floors devoted to those technical activities required to keep the city operating. Bold forms recall nearby granite mercantile buildings, a legacy of days when Boston was the nation’s window on the world.... Massive concrete piers supporting [the] upper floors define a middle space that unites the ceremonial functions with the actual seat of government: the mayor’s office and city council chambers. These are dramatized in hanging or projecting forms expressive of their functions.... Grandeur is everywhere modulated by studied proportion and detail; brick, concrete, space, and daylight form a reassuring palette of materials in a building that does not intimidate the humblest of its two million owners.... As a humanistic invention alone, City Hall takes its place among the finest public buildings of the world.
Boston Society of Architects Architecture Boston, 1976
Boston City Hall [is] more grandiose than it need be and much more intelligent and hopeful than its detractors contend. It is, after all, an astonishing building, an elaborate structure of concrete parts that rises above the sweeping brick surface of City Hall Plaza to command its surroundings.... It is an imaginatively contrived, thoroughly worked-out building of enormous power. It’s just not that friendly.... The spirit of City Hall is vested in the remarkable way that space penetrates it in all directions, lodges in its coffers and thick edges, and celebrates the ingenuity, passion and knowledgeable care with which its architects directed the assembly of its pieces. There are few buildings to match it in architectonic daring and spirit.
Donlyn Lyndon The City Observed: Boston, 1982