Children's Hospital and Longwood Medical, 1968

The Longwood Medical Area is chock full of concrete architecture, from stale workhorses to bizarre confections. Hugh Stubbins, Bertran Goldberg, Payette, and The Architects Collaborative all contributed works to the district, which grew rapidly during the heroic period. Longwood’s continued growth threatens many of these concrete structures, which are being subsumed, surmounted, and irrevocably altered—often not for the better. A case in point is the Children’s Inn and Hospital Medical Center by The Architects Collaborative. The powerful volumes of the original ensemble—a tower, floating bar, and low slab—formed a subtle and carefully scaled courtyard. Today this retreat has been filled in by a commercial food court with warbling letters, bright colors, and flashy materials meant to capture our overstimulated attention. While perhaps too severe, the original complex had an earnest substance that has now been entirely supplanted by an addition better suited to the Mall of America. Its “cornice” turns the corner and haphazardly covers a portion of the reveal between the floating bar and the low slab, a point of great drama in the original scheme. The loss is enough to make an observer weep.

Mark Pasnik “Heroic,” 2009