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The Case for Calling Brutalism 'Heroic' Instead

A conversation with the creators of Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, which explores the city’s remarkable urban renewal legacy.
Paul Rudolph, Government Service Center, 1962–71
Paul Rudolph, Government Service Center, 1962–71Mark Pasnik/The Monacelli Press

1950s Boston, with its stagnant economy, aging infrastructure, and impenetrable culture of corruption, was in need of a few heroes. Some say it got a bunch of concrete-loving villains instead. But a new book hopes to change the way Boston’s urban renewal history—and the entire architectural period that represents it—is viewed and described.

Initiated after then-Mayor Thomas Menino first proposed demolishing Boston City Hall, in late 2006, a trio of Boston architects and designers, Mark Pasnik, Michael Kubo and Chris Grimley, have compiled years of research, interviews, and a popular exhibit on the topic into the Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston.