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Boston City Hall receives Getty grant for preservation work

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‘Significant’ modern building

The Getty Foundation has awarded a $120,000 grant designed to help preserve Boston City Hall—which, depending on whom one asks, is either one of America’s most beautiful municipal hubs or one of the ugliest architectural marvels of its age.

The money from the Los Angeles-based nonprofit will go toward specialists from different fields who will work with Boston officials and the Boston Landmarks Commission to evaluate City Hall and its surrounding plaza.

That evaluation will include laboratory analysis of the concrete and an assessment of the building’s systems to create a conservation management plan for the site, according to a Getty Foundation release.

Why such effort to preserve City Hall? Because the foundation and its experts deem the building one of several dozen modern ones worldwide worthy of protecting. It’s part of what the Getty Foundation calls its “Keeping It Modern” initiative.

Since its launch in 2014, the initiative has supported 45 international conservation projects “that collectively point to the importance of research and planning for the preservation of modern architectural heritage.”

The foundation added a dozen more this year, including City Hall as well as the Bauhaus Building in Dessau, Germany, England’s Conventry Cathedral, and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo.

As for City Hall, several of its features caught the nonprofit’s eye:

Grandly austere with its concrete facade, Boston City Hall features several playful gestures, including its gravity-defying mayor’s office that hovers over the main entrance plaza and a profusion of outsized classical dentils. The latter’s ironic reference to the city’s plethora of Greek-inspired municipal buildings underscores the architects’ intention to introduce a new idiom to Boston’s civic landscape.

The Getty Foundation does delicately note the “mixed” reception (to say the least) that City Hall has engendered since its debut in the late 1960s. But it also notes “a shift in public sentiment” in recent years, “with many residents now embracing the site as a key feature of the city fabric.”

What’d you think? One hundred, twenty grand to preserve the old beauty/eyesore—worth it?

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