John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building, 1961

Gropius’s Kennedy Building [was] the major work in Boston of the master who had put the city on the Modernist map in the first place—for by 1966 Gropius’s twenty-six-story tower stood finished before the city’s surely astonished gaze. Like a vision it must have seemed—sleek, machined, so gleaming white and confident—it had risen out of the rubble of old Scollay Square with a conviction and an assurance worth of the era. From the beginning, however, Gropius’s building disappointed many.... The design, though striking for Boston, was less so for the rest of the world of architecture.

Douglass Shand-Tucci Built in Boston, 1978

It’s hard to imagine that this building was designed by the firm that was founded and nurtured by Walter Gropius. Or maybe it’s not.... For Gropius, modern architecture seemed always to be more about issues of industrial reorganization and professional service than about vision. Suitable expression was considered to be a secondary consequence of good building. It certainly is here, but it’s a secondary consequence that marks the skyline of the North and West ends and that considerably dampens the spirits of the Government Center complex.... The Kennedy Building is thoughtful in detail and obedient to the dicta of uniformity, but it is not governed by any vital sense of visual purpose. It’s as though the designers went directly from determining the size and disposition of the little wooden blocks that represented the mass of the building in a model to drawing the window details... but no vision. The Kennedy Building is instructive mainly in that it illustrates how lackluster City Hall could have been—even in the hands of an acknowledged leader of the profession—if it had tread the conventional paths to governmental approval.

Donlyn Lyndon The City Observed: Boston, 1982